NEW YORK (AP) — Eduardo Escobar hit an early three-run homer, Chris Bassitt pitched six shutout innings for his 14th win and the New York Mets beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-1 on Saturday night.
New York maintained its one-game lead in the NL East over the Atlanta Braves, who defeated Philadelphia 4-3. The Mets (92-55) have won the first three games of a four-game series against last-place Pittsburgh after getting swept at home by the Chicago Cubs.
Pete Alonso drew a bases-loaded walk in the eighth for his 114th RBI, adding to his NL high.
Mets batters were hit by pitches four times, including Jeff McNeil twice. New York has been plunked 101 times this season, most in the majors and four shy of the big league record set by Cincinnati last year.
"It's not a record you want to break," Mets manager Buck Showalter said.
Rodolfo Castro's 10th homer of the season in the ninth prevented the Pirates from being shut out for the 15th time.
Bryse Wilson (3-9) was charged with loss. He allowed four earned runs in 5 1/3 innings and struck out five.
All the offense the Mets required came in the second inning on Escobar's 18th homer. The third baseman slammed the first pitch he saw from Wilson, a 94 mph fastball, over the wall in right-center.
"I'm getting the results that I want," Escobar said. "At the most pivotal time."
The 3-0 lead was more than enough for Bassitt (14-8), who permitted three hits and struck out eight.
In his second start this month against Pittsburgh, Bassitt toyed with the Pirates. Bryan Reynolds (first-inning single) and Castro (double in the fourth and single in the sixth) accounted for all of Pittsburgh's hits off the veteran righty.
Only six Pirates reached base against Bassitt, and just two got to third base.
"Facing the same lineup 10 days ago I was thinking they were looking at some pitches, looking for some pitches," Bassitt said. "I kind of went off script a little bit."
New York's lead grew to 4-0 in the sixth when Pittsburgh reliever Eric Stout walked Brandon Nimmo with the bases loaded. Two innings later, Alonso stretched the lead to 5-0 when he was walked by Chase De Long with the bases full.
Castro's leadoff homer in the ninth ended the scoring.
Mets: RHP Tylor Megill (strained right shoulder) and All-Star RF Starling Marte (partial fracture of the right middle finger) were in the clubhouse before the game. Megill said he had "no idea yet" when he would be activated from the injured list. Marte said he tried to throw and hit Thursday but the finger was still bothering him. He did say "there's a good possibility" he will return before the end of the regular season. … RHP Mychal Givens was placed on the IL without an injury designation, indicating it was likely related to COVID-19. RHP Stephen Nogosek was reinstated from the 15-day injured list.
SEEDS OF GROWTH
Pirates manager Derek Shelton said he spoke to Ke'Bryan Hayes about the third baseman eating sunflower seeds during play, calling it an "unfortunate situation."
SNY aired a clip Friday night of Hayes snacking as Escobar rounded third and scored New York's first run on Tomás Nido's hit.
Shelton called it "an outlier situation" and added there was no disciplinary action taken.
"It's one play in a game," Shelton said. "We moved on from it."
Pittsburgh RHP Johan Oviedo (3-2, 3.34 ERA) faces Mets ace Jacob deGrom (5-2, 2.01) in the series finale Sunday.