Mets use unorthodox rally to beat Pirates and move above .500 for first time in 2024


The Pirates dipped into their bullpen, but it was the Mets who found relief.

Helpless against starter Jared Jones, the Mets broke through against the Pittsburgh bullpen, received dominant work from their own relief corps and rallied for a 3-1 comeback win in front of 18,398 at Citi Field on Tuesday night.

The Mets (9-8) are above .500 for the first time and have won a fourth straight series even before Wednesday afternoon’s series finale.

Jeff McNeil celebrates at second after hitting a RBI double which scores Joey Wendle in the seventh inning of the Mets’ 3-1 win over the Pirates. Corey Sipkin for the NY POST

The Mets had not tallied more wins than losses since last June 3, when Buck Showalter was in charge and Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer led the rotation.

The 2024 apparently comeback-kid Mets have seemed to pick new heroes each night through the current hot streak, and Joey Wendle and the “B” group of bullpen arms — Reed Garrett, Jorge Lopez and Drew Smith — combined to steal Tuesday’s game.

The Mets were down by one and had collected one hit through six innings before Wendle helped them crack through with an unorthodox, three-run seventh.

With Jones out of the game after five efficient innings, the rally started against righty Luis Ortiz.

A Francisco Lindor walk and Pete Alonso single brought up Wendle for his first at-bat, only in the game because Brett Baty exited with left hamstring tightness.

Wendle, cold off the bench, smacked an RBI double down the left-field line to tie the game.

Joey Wendle delivered the game-tying RBI double in the seventh inning on Tuesday night. Corey Sipkin for the NY POST

“It seems like every night it’s been somebody different for this team,” said Wendle, who only has had 13 plate appearances this year. “We’ve found ways to win baseball games in the last two weeks in a lot of different ways. To be the guy to help contribute tonight was great.”

Jose Hernandez entered to face Jeff McNeil, but the lefty balked in the go-ahead run before throwing his first pitch.

His fifth pitch was an outside fastball that McNeil threw his bat at, guiding it down the left-field line for an RBI double and a two-run cushion that the Mets’ bullpen held.

Jose Quintana was effective if inefficient over five, one-run innings and passed the baton to a bullpen that did not have Edwin Diaz, Adam Ottavino and Brooks Raley available, all having pitched the previous two days.

The alleged underbelly of the unit was outstanding.

Garrett recorded six outs — on six strikeouts — and escaped danger in the seventh.

Harrison Bader makes a diving catch for the Mets against the Pirates on Tuesday night. JASON SZENES FOR THE NEW YORK POST

The Pirates put runners on the corners, but Garrett struck out Bryan Reynolds on a splitter and pumped his fist coming off the mound.

“It’s a blast,” said Garrett, who credited Mets coaching and vets such as Ottavino, Raley and Jake Diekman for this breakthrough. “Obviously, you wish you could go out there and strike out everyone all the time. But it’s always a blast. I mean, no matter what, whenever you get the ball in a major league game, it’s fun.”

The 31-year-old, who was claimed off waivers from the Orioles last June, has been a legitimate find.

Jose Quintana throws during the first inning of a solid start against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday night. Corey Sipkin for the NY POST

A heavy fastball and often unhittable splitter and slider have turned the righty into a staple of the bullpen.

Manager Carlos Mendoza acknowledged he did not know much about Garrett entering camp, but he saw a high-90s fastball, good secondary pitches and, “It’s like, OK,” Mendoza said, “We got something.”

Lopez sat down the heart of the Pirates’ order in a perfect eighth before Smith recorded his fourth career save with a perfect ninth.

The second tier of Mets relievers totaled four scoreless innings in which they allowed one hit, one walk and struck out nine.

Francisco Lindor celebrates scoring on a Joey Wendle (13) RBI double in the seventh inning on Tuesday. Corey Sipkin for the NY POST

The victory came despite being thoroughly dominated for five innings by Jones, a 22-year-old who has been lights out for his first four major league starts.

The Mets recorded one hit against Jones — a defense-aided double from Alonso — but were helpless otherwise. Jones did not reach a two-ball count, throwing 50 of his 59 pitches for strikes.

Pirates manager Derek Shelton told reporters that Jones was predetermined to go five innings in this outing as they manage his workload.

The Pirates might have had the best arm, but the Mets had the best late-game options — including Garrett, who has emerged from nowhere and become a strikeout machine.

“Whatever he’s been doing,” Quintana said with a smile, “keep it going.”