PITTSBURGH (AP) — A series of energy-sapping extra-inning games has left the New York Mets' bullpen limping toward a much-needed All-Star break.
"Those guys are out of gas," manager Terry Collins said. "Those arms are hanging."
And New York's chances of fighting its way back to .500 are sagging.
Andrew McCutchen hit a tying home run off reliever David Aardsma in the sixth, then delivered a go-ahead single off Greg Burke (0-2) in the seventh and the Pittsburgh Pirates rallied for a 4-2 win Saturday night.
"You've got to get in a situation where he can't hurt you," Collins said of McCutchen. "We got a ball up to him and he did what he does. He did some damage."
Justin Wilson (6-1) earned the victory in relief of starter A.J. Burnett. All-Star closer Jason Grilli worked a perfect ninth for his NL-leading 29th save. The victory assured Pittsburgh (56-36) of its best record at the All-Star break since 1975.
"We just want to continue to keep rolling," McCutchen said.
The Mets, meanwhile, can't wait for a chance to reboot the season. Marlon Byrd and Eric Young had two hits apiece for New York and spot starter Carlos Torres worked five effective innings, but the Mets managed just one hit against a trio of Pittsburgh relievers while the Pirates clawed out of a 2-0 deficit.
"We continue to do enough things and meet the demands of the game that we need to meet to find ways to win," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.
New York had been doing the same recently.
The Mets came into the series 16-9 in their last 25 games as they attempt to bounce back from a horrendous start. Two taut losses to one of baseball's biggest first-half surprises have cooled them off heading into the break.
It didn't look that way early on as Torres, making his first major league start in three years, outpitched Burnett. The journeyman right-hander was pressed into action after New York ace Matt Harvey was forced to skip his scheduled start due to a blister on his right (pitching) hand.
Collins hinted Torres had a chance to pitch his way into the rotation for the second half, and Torres did little to indicate he's not ready for the job. He tossed five effective innings in his first major league start since Aug. 3, 2010, giving up one run on five hits, striking out five.
"I'm very happy with we got out of Carlos," Collins said. "He threw the ball great for as long as he could go ... he's going to be a good addition to our rotation."
Torres worked as a starter in Triple-A Las Vegas this season before moving into a reliever's role when the Mets called him up in mid-June. He hadn't thrown more than 45 pitches since returning to the majors and cruised into the fifth before tiring.
Garrett Jones doubled and scored on Jordy Mercer's single. Clint Barmes followed with a double and a sacrifice bunt and a hit-by-pitch loaded the bases with one out. Yet Torres survived when Jose Tabata hit into a double play to end the threat.
"I was just taking it inning by inning and I thought pretty well until the fifth," Torres said. "That fifth inning was brutal. I lost my command and I left a lot of balls up. I guess maybe I ran out of gas a little."
Torres then handed it over to the bullpen, but New York's relievers — whose 1.76 ERA this month is the second-best mark in baseball — couldn't make it hold up. McCutchen reached the seats in center field off Aardsma to tie the game.
The homer run came one pitch after Aardsma buzzed McCutchen with a fastball. The All-Star dusted himself off then sent his 10th homer of the season into the stands.
"I was just ready to hit," McCutchen said. "Come up and in, (I) just like bear down and be ready to hit and that's what happened."
The Pirates won it in the seventh. Pinch-hitter Travis Snider started the rally with a one-out single off Burke. Tabata followed one batter later with a single and Snider scored when McCutchen hit a single that deflected off New York third baseman David Wright's glove and into the outfield.
Pittsburgh added an insurance run when New York's Josh Edgin walked Russell Martin with the bases loaded.
NOTES: The Mets activated RHP Scott Atchison off the disabled list following the game and sent utility player Jordany Valdespin to Triple-A Las Vegas ... Atchison is 0-0 with a 4.50 ERA in 19 appearances with New York this season ... The series concludes Sunday when Pittsburgh's Gerrit Cole (4-2, 3.68 ERA) faces New York's Dillon Gee (6-7, 4.60). Cole is starting in place of Jeff Locke, who is dealing with back stiffness that will force him to sit out next Tuesday's All-Star game ... New York reliever LaTroy Hawkins was held out again due to soreness in his right triceps. Collins says a decision on whether to put Hawkins on the disabled list won't be made until after the All-Star break.