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Pirates salvage split as Mitch Keller shuts down Mets for 10th win before All-Star break

Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Mitch Keller delivers during the first inning of a baseball game Monday against the New York Mets in Pittsburgh. Associated Press

PITTSBURGH — Mitch Keller pitched eight innings for his 10th win of the season and Joshua Palacios’ home run capped a five-run sixth inning and the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the New York Mets 8-2 on Monday.

Keller (10-5) allowed two runs and seven hits in a 107-pitch outing while striking out six and walking none. He is the first Pirates pitcher to have double-digit victories before the All-Star break since Gerrit Cole in 2015 and Pittsburgh earned a split of the four-game series.

The performance came a day after Keller did not get selected to the All-Star Game. That decision rankled Pirates manager Derek Shelton.

“That was an All-Star performance,” Shelton said. “He’s 10 wins before the break with another start to go. He made one bad pitch in eight innings, and it was hot and he had to sit through two long innings. If that’s not an All-Star, I’m hard-pressed to see what is.”

It was the 49th consecutive start Keller pitched at least five innings, the longest current run in the major leagues.

“I thought we had a really good game plan going in, (catcher) Joey (Bart) and I,” Keller said. “Just tried to attack the zone and fill it up as much as possible, be on the aggression. Good things will happen if you do that.”

Pittsburgh’s Oneil Cruz and New York’s Brandon Nimmo each hit two-run home runs.

Mets manager Carlos Mendoza lifted rookie starter Christian Scott after 77 pitches with two outs and no runners on base in the bottom of the sixth inning with the score 2-2.

Pitching on four days' rest for the first time in the major leagues, Scott was on a limit of 75 pitches.

Eric Orze relieved, making his major-league debut, and failed to retire any of the three batters he faced. Orze (0-1) walked Bryan Reynolds then Cruz singled and Rowdy Tellez hit an RBI single to put the Pirates ahead 3-2.

Nick Gonzales greeted Adrian Houser with a run-scoring double. The Pirates added two more runs on a fielding error by right fielder Jeff McNeil and a wild pitch before Palacios homered to make it 7-2.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity,” Orze said. “Obviously didn’t go the way I wanted, but I felt confident and I felt good.”

It was Palacios’ first home run of the season after being called up from Triple-A Indianapolis last week. He drove in another run with a grounder in the eighth.

“Watching that at-bat by Cruz, watching the at-bat by Rowdy and watching Nick get that through, that got me excited,” Palacios said. “I was ready to go. And then I got something good to hit and I was able to unleash on it.”

Cruz’s homer was a 431-foot shot to the bullpens in center field in the fourth inning off Scott and opened the scoring. That was the only hit allowed by Scott.

The Mets tied it at 2-2 on Nimmo’s blast in the sixth off Keller. It was the first time Nimmo put a 3-0 pitch in play during his nine seasons in the majors, spanning 3,421 plate appearances.

Scott was outstanding but is still seeking his first win after six career starts. He had three strikeouts and one walk.

Nimmo, Francisco Alvarez and Mark Vientos had two hits for the Mets. The Pirates got two hits from both Cruz and Gonzales.

New York went 4-4 on its eight-game road trip and fell back below .500 at 44-45. The Pirates finished 3-4 on their homestand.

“Definitely some games that got away from us, but honestly that’s the story of the year so far,” Nimmo said. “We haven’t been able to lock down wins. And that’s a problem. We’re hoping to address it.”

Trainer’s room

Pirates: Cruz was removed for a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning because of hamstring tightness.

Up next

Pirates: Have not decided on a starter for Tuesday night’s game against the Brewers in Milwaukee that opens a three-game series. Right-hander Colin Rea (8-2, 3.34) will pitch for the Brewers.

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