NEW YORK (AP) – Noah Syndergaard struck out 11 and took a shutout into the ninth inning, Wilmer Flores homered and drove in four runs, and the New York Mets piled up a season-high 19 hits in routing the Pittsburgh Pirates 11-2 on Wednesday night.
Late replacement Kelly Johnson also homered for New York. Johnson, Rene Rivera and substitute second baseman Matt Reynolds each had three hits and two RBIs.
Yoenis Cespedes had three hits and scored three times as the Mets busted loose at the plate against lefty Jeff Locke (5-5). Shut out in the series opener the previous night, New York had been struggling to score lately with an injury-depleted lineup missing five regulars.
Syndergaard (7-2) received plenty of support – even if he didn’t need much. Every starting position player got a hit for the Mets, and seven of the eight had at least two.
When he came to bat in the eighth, Syndergaard received a standing ovation from the crowd of 32,117. With the big right-hander still under 100 pitches, Mets manager Terry Collins let Syndergaard try for his first big league complete game.
John Jaso doubled leading off the ninth for his third hit, however, and one out later Syndergaard gave up an RBI double to pinch-hitter David Freese. That was it for Syndergaard, who looked disappointed that he wasn’t able to finish the job.
Still, he walked off the mound to another warm ovation and settled for winning his fifth consecutive decision. Jeurys Familia finished up.
Syndergaard, who retired 17 in a row following Jaso’s sharp single on his first pitch of the night, gave up five hits and walked none in a career-high 8 1/3 innings. The second-year starter threw 115 pitches, one short of his most in the majors, and was hitting 99 mph on the radar gun in the eighth.
Earlier, he froze Pirates star Andrew McCutchen for strike three looking on a 101 mph fastball in the fourth and a 100 mph heater to end the sixth with two on.
Locke was charged with seven runs and nine hits in four-plus innings, losing his second consecutive ugly outing following a four-game winning streak.
Pittsburgh signed first-round draft pick Will Craig, a third baseman out of Wake Forest. Craig receives a signing bonus of $2,253,700, the assigned slot value for his selection at No. 22 overall.
Pirates RHP Juan Nicasio (5-5, 5.34 ERA) starts the rubber game of the series tonight against 43-year-old RHP Bartolo Colon (5-3, 3.08). Nicasio went five innings in a 3-1 win over the Mets in Pittsburgh last week but is winless in five road starts this year. Colon is 4-2 with a 1.88 ERA – his lowest against any opponent – in eight career starts vs. the Pirates.