Mets rally from five down to beat Pirates in 10 innings

PITTSBURGH -- Fernando Tatis' body was laden with ice bags, Francisco Rodriguez's right arm was wrapped with towels. The weary New York Mets went through a lot to gain an improbable victory in an unwanted game.

Two days after appearing to be in a freefall, the Mets pulled off the kind of victory that can turn a season around. Ryan Church singled in the go-ahead run in the 10th inning, and the Mets beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 9-8 on Thursday after trailing by five runs and wasting a ninth-inning lead.

"It was a roller coaster, especially the way the day started down 5-0, but it just shows you we are resilient," Church said.

Adam LaRoche hit a tying two-run homer in the ninth against Francisco Rodriguez before the Mets rebounded to win the makeup of a June 3 rainout. No doubt they would have preferred their first day off in 2 1/2 weeks to playing, but the Mets (39-39) now head into a big weekend series at Philadelphia back at .500 with consecutive wins following a five-game losing streak.

"We could have just said, `Let's pack up and head to Philly, it's a short flight, let's get this out of the way,' " said manager Jerry Manuel, who held a lengthy team meeting Tuesday in Milwaukee. "They chose to fight and I thought that was what was most impressive. We overcame a lot of things that were adversary."

Tatis hit a two-run homer among his three hits, was hit twice with pitches -- causing him to say afterward he was in pain from head to toe -- and scored four times as the Mets staged their biggest comeback of the season to take an 8-6 lead.

They couldn't hold it as Rodriguez, 21 of 23 previously in save chances, gave up his first tying homer in the ninth since Kevin Millar went deep for Baltimore on July 25 last year.

"Too bad it wasn't a three-run (homer)," LaRoche said. "We fought back, which we've done a lot, it just seems like on the short end of it a lot."

Rodriguez (2-2), angry at himself, lobbied Manuel to stay in.

"He said, `If we score, I need to go back out for myself," Manuel said. "When one of your players is like that, of that stature and what he means to us, I knew if we came back and he didn't go back out, he would carry that for a few days."

Rodriguez responded with a perfect 10th, needing a career regular season-high 46 pitches to get through two innings. The only other time he threw 46 pitches, during the 2002 World Series against the Giants, his team also rallied from a five-run deficit.

"I'm the kind of guy who (if he) makes a mess, cleans it up," said Rodriguez, whose previous regular-season high was 42 pitches according to ESPN.com. "I felt really frustrated because I didn't get the job done."

Matt Capps (1-4), who had converted 12 consecutive save opportunities since May 15, got the first two batters in the 10th until hitting Tatis with a pitch. Despite being in pain, Tatis stole second, and Church -- expecting a changeup but getting a fastball -- lined a single into center for the Mets' 15th hit.

"It was unbelievable," Tatis said of a day made even longer by two rain delays that totaled 1 hour, 13 minutes.

Pinch-hitter Daniel Murphy began the comeback with a two-run single off Paul Maholm in the fourth after the Pirates opened the early lead against Tim Redding. Jeremy Reed, also pinch-hitting, gave the Mets the lead for the first time with a sacrifice fly that made it 6-5 and finished off a four-run fifth inning.

Tatis added a two-run homer an inning later off Jeff Karstens, but Garrett Jones cut the Pirates' deficit to 8-6 with a solo homer in the seventh. Jones, called up from the minors two days earlier, had three hits and was a single short of the cycle.

"I just wish we had pulled it out," Jones said.

Alex Cora and Nick Evans each had two hits for the Mets, who scored only 13 runs in their previous six games.

Maholm was 3-1 with 1.96 ERA in six home starts before allowing six runs and 11 hits in 4 1/3 innings.

Redding, who may be bumped from the rotation after Oliver Perez makes a rehabilitation start on Friday at Triple-A Buffalo, gave up five runs and six hits in 2 1/3 innings to raise his ERA to 6.99.

Game notes
Batters were hitting .088 against Rodriguez with runners on base until LaRoche hit his 12th homer. ... The home team won the previous six games, three in each city, in the now-completed season series. ... The Mets are 2-0 in July after going 9-18 in June. ... New York's previous best rally was from four runs down while beating the Giants 8-6 on May 15.