There was the early seven-run hole against the Cubs back in the home opener. A week later, back-to-back deficits of seven and eight runs greeted the Pirates in their only trip of the season to Los Angeles. Games at Chicago and, most recently, over the weekend against Philadelphia featured more of the same.
So when the Pirates put up seven runs against former Pittsburgh lefty Oliver Perez in the second inning on Wednesday, they finally got a taste of what it's like to be the ones doing -- and not feeling the brunt of -- all the offensive damage.
Not only did that outburst knock Perez out of the game before the end of the second, but it also assisted in settling down Pirates starter Tom Gorzelanny, as Pittsburgh coasted to a 13-1 win in front of 46,788 at Shea Stadium. With that victory, the Pirates salvaged a two-game split with the Mets.
"It's a lot nicer to play like that than the other way around," said Nate McLouth, who once again led the offense's attack.
While the Pirates would continue to tack on runs as the afternoon went on, it was that second inning that set the tone for a fun New York afternoon.
The Pirates sent 12 hitters to the plate in the second despite only getting three hits. But combining those three hits -- RBI singles by Freddy Sanchez and Ryan Doumit, and a two-run single from Xavier Nady -- with five walks and a costly error by the Mets would prove to be more than enough.
"They came out and swung the bat very well and took advantage of some walks," manager John Russell said of his team. "It was one of those games where it was nice to jump out big early."
Perez issued walks to three of the first four hitters he faced in the second, before Gorzelanny knocked a slow ground ball that Mets second baseman Luis Castillo fielded, but couldn't cleanly get out of his glove. By the time he grabbed control of the ball, one run was in, Chris Gomez was safely at second and Gorzelanny had reached first.
From there, the floodgates opened, a somewhat ironic occurrence considering the game had been delayed 40 minutes when a water main break outside the stadium prevented the New York grounds crew from being able to finish watering down the infield before the scheduled 1:10 p.m. ET start.
A bases-loaded walk to McLouth followed, before the three RBI hits and a sacrifice fly by Jason Bay finished off the scoring. It gave the Pirates their biggest one-inning run total since the team scored seven against the Phillies on Aug. 19, 2007.
"It's one of those things where our bats are hot right now, and hopefully we can keep it up," said Doumit, who has hit safely in seven of his last eight games. "It makes it easier to play, and also helps you relax a little more."
As much as anything, though, the Pirates were able to successfully connect for the timely hits that have been missing in recent weeks. They made the Mets' error in the second inning lead to five unearned runs. They would take similar advantage of errors by the New York defense in the sixth.
|"It's one of those things where our bats are hot right now, and hopefully we can keep it up. It makes it easier to play, and also helps you relax a little more."|
|-- Ryan Doumit|
Both RBI singles by Doumit and Nady in the second came with two outs, stretching what was still a manageable four-run deficit for New York into a more intimidating seven-run Pittsburgh lead.
The fifth-inning RBI single by Sanchez also came with two outs, before the Pirates tacked on four more runs with two out in the following inning with the help of two costly errors.
"You never relax, obviously, but it's nice to be comfortable early," said McLouth, who finished with three hits and three runs scored. "It's a situation where you want to be patient and really lock in, and look for a certain pitch in a certain area, and really make [the Mets pitchers] throw strikes."
The three-hit afternoon gave McLouth his 11th multihit game of the month.
By the end of Wednesday's game, everyone in the lineup had had some fun. It took only three innings before all nine starters reached base at least once. In addition to McLouth, Sanchez, Doumit and Nady all finished with multihit days.
The batting averages, however, weren't the only statistics to benefit. With the early seven-run cushion to work with, Gorzelanny took the mound knowing that one mistake couldn't sink his team into a hole, even if that's not how the left-hander approached each subsequent inning.
"It's always a help to have a big lead, but like any pitcher would say, when you have a lead like that, you're not going to say, 'OK, I can just cruise here,'" said the lefty, who pushed his record to 2-3 with the win. "I tried to forget what the score was and pitch like it was 0-0."
Much like his last start, Gorzelanny was effectively wild. He walked five hitters and allowed just one hit. But this time, he also kept New York off the scoreboard in his five innings of work.
There are still evident command issues to be dealt with, but after the game, both Gorzelanny and Russell saw it as a step back in the right direction.
"I felt a lot more confident," said Gorzelanny, who has now walked 27 hitters in 27 1/3 innings this season. "I attacked these guys a lot more and was a little more aggressive out there than I had been."
He would likely have pitched to a few more hitters if it hadn't been for the lower back tightness that he felt when pitching to David Wright with two outs in the fifth. Gorzelanny finished the inning to make himself eligible for the win, but he was pinch-hit for in the sixth.
The left-hander said he does not expect the tightness to keep him from making his next start.
John Van Benschoten and Evan Meek each pitched two innings in relief of Gorzelanny, with Van Benschoten giving up the only run New York finished with on Wednesday.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.