PITTSBURGH — Michael Conforto hit a two-run homer in the ninth inning to complete a huge comeback and the New York Mets overcame an embarrassing gaffe by All-Star pitcher Taijuan Walker to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 7-6 Sunday.Trailing 6-0 in the first inning, the Mets rallied to salvage a rugged weekend at PNC Park. The NL East leaders lost stars Jacob deGrom and Francisco Lindor to injuries, then dropped Saturday night’s game when closer Edwin Diaz gave up a two-out grand slam in the ninth that capped Pittsburgh’s six-run comeback.Conforto connected off closer Richard Rodriguez (4-2), who blew his third save in 16 opportunities. Dominic Smith led off the ninth with a single and Conforto followed with his fourth homer.The Mets lost four of seven to Pittsburgh in a pair of series surrounding the All-Star break.Walker, who pitched in the All-Star Game on Tuesday night, hurt himself with a huge misplay in the first inning that led to an argument and the ejection of Mets manager Luis Rojas.Bryan Reynolds hit an RBI single and John Nogowski doubled for a quick 3-0 lead, and two walks loaded the bases with one out.Kevin Newman hit a dribbler down the third base line and the ball started out in foul territory, but then began spinning back toward the line.Walker swooped in and swatted at the ball, trying to make contact while it was still in foul ground. But TV replays showed the ball was touching the chalk when Walker hit it, and plate umpire Jeremy Riggs correctly called it a fair ball.Walker turned to argue the call as the ball rolled toward the Pirates dugout, and no Mets reacted to retrieve it. The three Pittsburgh runners took off and kept running, and all came around to score.Walker said he tried to swat the ball into the dugout.“Obviously, I thought it was foul,” Walker said. “It was so close. … I thought I flipped it in the dugout. I didn’t even realize it was still in play. It was just one of those plays that just happen. Crazy play.”Walker was charged with an error on the play, while Newman was credited with a single and one RBI.Rojas immediately ran out to argue the call and was ejected. He said he wanted the umpires to conference to make sure the correct call was made, even though the play was not reviewable.“I didn’t wake up this morning to get thrown out in the bottom of the first inning,” he said.Walker said Rojas’ passionate defense helped the team get back into the game after a lackluster start.“He was fired up for, sure, and I think that got the whole team fired up, to have our backs,” Walker said.After walking pitcher JT Brubaker, Walker was pulled from the game. He allowed six runs on four hit and four walks while recording just one out.The Mets began to rally with Smith’s RBI single in the third. In the fourth, pinch-hitter Travis Blankenhorn hit his first major league homer, a three-run shot to the riverwalk beyond right-center field to make it 6-4.Jeff McNeil scored on right fielder Gregory Polanco’s throwing error in the sixth to bring the Mets to within a run.Jeurys Familia (5-1) pitched two innings. Trevor May worked around a leadoff walk in the ninth for his second save.CONFORTO COMING AROUND?Conforto’s home run gave him three extra-base hits in three games since the All-Star break. He had just two in 19 games after returning from a hamstring injury in late June, while his slugging percentage fell to .277. Conforto slugged .515 with nine home runs and 12 doubles in 2020.“He’s one of the guys that we’re waiting to catch fire, because he can help our offense,” Rojas said.ROSTER MOVESThe Pirates reinstated right-handed relief pitcher Duane Underwood Jr. from the injured list and optioned right-handed reliever Nick Mears to Triple-A Indianapolis. Underwood had been out since July 8 with right side discomfort. Mears has not appeared in the majors this season.The Mets placed deGrom on the 10-day injured list with right forearm tightness. The ace had been scheduled to start on Sunday, but was scratched. An MRI revealed no structural damage.UP NEXTMets: Jerad Eickhoff (0-1, 4.97 ERA) will start a three-game series in Cincinnati on Monday. Eickhoff has appeared in three games this season and made one start. He last pitched 2 2/3 innings of relief on July 11.Pirates: Chase De Jong (1-3, 5.59) will start on Monday as the Pirates start a six-game road trip with three games against Arizona.
Yasmani Grandal hit a two-run double and the Chicago White Sox stopped a five-game losing streak, beating the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-3, Leury García added a home run as the AL Central leaders ended their longest skid of the seasonBy ALAN SAUNDERS Associated PressJune 23, 2021, 9:44 PM• 4 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articlePITTSBURGH — Yasmani Grandal hit a two-run double and the Chicago White Sox stopped a five-game losing streak, beating the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-3 Wednesday.Leury García added a home run as the AL Central leaders ended their longest skid of the season.Chicago starter Dylan Cease (6-3) bounced back from a rough outing to work 5 2/3 innings, allowing one earned run while striking out seven.“I did an Ozzie Smith somersault when we got that last out,” manager Tony La Russa joked. “You take it too serious, because this what you do for a living, but you know, it’s been kind of miserable. Five straight days, so we’d have taken a win anytime in there to ease the misery. … If you had to pick one of the five to win, you’d pick this one.”Cease was tagged for seven runs in 3 1/3 innings in his previous start at Houston. That game was the first of Chicago’s slump, and Cease was happy to be one to help end it on Wednesday.“Anytime you can help the team get a win, it’s why I’m here,” he said. “It’s not just all me, though. Between our defense and our offense, I’m just happy to be able to do my part.”Liam Hendricks pitched a perfect ninth for his 19th save of the season.Grandal’s tiebreaking hit came with two outs in the fifth inning and finished Pirates starter Chase De Jong (0-2).García led off the second with his first home run of the season, a first-pitch drive to right center.Pittsburgh scored twice in the second after Cease made two errors in attempting to field a bunt by De Jong with Michael Perez on first base. Cease first dropped the ball and then threw it away, giving the Pirates runners at second and third.“We’ve all seen that inning get away because the pitcher just loses concentration and doesn’t realize he’s been good,” La Russa said. “Just get the next hitter out and go from there. That’s a really good example of his growth and his potential.”Chicago outfielder Luis González got his first big league hit with a second-inning double and scored on Tim Anderson’s double.González made his first start as the White Sox navigate the absence of outfielder Adam Engel, who was placed on the injured list on Tuesday.Adam Frazier had an RBI grounder and Ke’Bryan Hayes singled home a run that made it 2-all.Frazier doubled and scored on a single by Hayes in the seventh.Hayes, who had gone 2 for 13 over the first four games of the Pittsburgh homestand, finished 2 for 4 with a walk and two RBIs.“We talk about slow heartbeats with a bunch of guys. This guy definitely has one,” Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton said. “He stays under control, doesn’t let it affect him on the other side of the ball. Obviously there’s going to be some highs and lows, but no thought that he’s not going to grind through it.”TRAINER’S ROOMPirates: LHP Sam Howard has been diagnosed with right knee tendinitis, but is not expected to miss significant time. … RHP Luis Oviedo (left quad strain) is expected to throw a simulated game in St. Louis.UP NEXTWhite Sox LHP Carlos Rodon (6-20, 1.83 ERA) is scheduled to start a three-game series with the Mariners in Chicago on Friday. Rodon has allowed just one run in each of his three starts in June and has a 1.42 ERA this month.Pirates RHP Chad Kuhl (1-4, 5.66) will start a seven-game road swing in St. Louis on Thursday. The Pirates are 0-5 against the Cardinals this season and have lost 10 straight against St. Louis overall.———More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports