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Mets split series with Pirates after bullpen combusts in 8-2 loss in Pittsburgh



PITTSBURGH — Eric Orze made for a great story this weekend when the Mets called up the two-time cancer survivor to make his big league debut in Pittsburgh.

But the ending was one he and the Mets would probably both like to rewrite.

Orze (0-1) was charged with the loss Monday afternoon in his first Major League appearance, giving up three earned runs in a 7-2 defeat by the Pirates at PNC Park. The two teams split the four-game series and the Mets finished an eight-game road trip with a 4-4 record, falling to one game under .500 (44-45).

A five-run sixth inning doomed the Mets. The bullpen imploded once again, as it had in the previous losses on the two-city trip through Washington and Pittsburgh. If the Mets are looking for anything to take away from this pre-All-Star swing, it’s that the bullpen needs to be fixed.

Right-handed rookie Christian Scott was cruising in the sixth inning when the Mets relieved him for Orze. The game was tied 2-2 after Scott allowed a two-run homer to Oneil Cruz in the fourth and Brandon Nimmo hit one of his own in the top of the sixth off right-hander Mitch Keller. Scott got two easy outs in the bottom of the sixth, but with the organization trying to manage his innings, he was pulled with two outs and no one base after throwing only 77 pitches.

With switch-hitter Bryan Reynolds due up followed by left-handed hitters Cruz and Rowdy Tellez, the Mets called on Orze, who boasts good splits against lefties.

Orze jogged in from the bullpen as his family watched from the stands. They made the drive from the Chicago area over the weekend after the Mets called him up from Triple-A Syracuse on Friday night.

Orze realized a dream, but it quickly turned into a nightmare.

Reynolds walked on seven pitches — all changeups — and Cruz battled him for seven pitches before lining a single to left. With runners on the corners, Rowdy Tellez sent a hard grounder to Mark Vientos at third base, who made a diving stop, but couldn’t get the out in time. Reynolds scored to give the Pirates a 3-2 lead and the Mets decided they had seen enough of Orze.

Adrian Houser replaced him and the inning continued to devolve. The right-hander gave up a two-run double to Nick Gonzales and right fielder Jeff McNeil bobbled the ball, allowing Cruz and Tellez to score and Gonzales to reach third. He then scored easily on a wild pitch, upping Pittsburgh’s lead to 6-2.

Josh Palacios connected for his first homer of the season, making it 7-2.

Meanwhile, Keller went eight innings for the Pirates (43-47), holding the Mets to two earned runs on seven hits and striking out six in the win (10-5).

Scott went 5 2/3 innings, allowing two earned runs on one hit, walking one and striking out three.

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