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PIT@SD: McPherson tosses two shutout frames in debut

If finishing the season above .500 is still a priority for the Pirates, they need to take care of business in four games against the Mets this week.

After that series, the Bucs close the season with three against Cincinnati and three against Atlanta. The Reds have already clinched the National League Central, while the Braves are in control of the first NL Wild Card spot.

On Monday, Pittsburgh will send young right-hander Kyle McPherson to the hill to face the Mets' Jenrry Mejia, a fellow righty. The first pitch at Citi Field is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. ET.

McPherson, who made his Major League debut on Aug. 20, has put together a 2.25 ERA over eight appearances, which includes a start his last time out. Facing the Brewers, McPherson (0-1) surrendered two runs and issued two strikeouts over 4 1/3 innings.

"I thought he was very resilient. He showed poise and battled very well," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "His fastball was a little bit up early, but he settled down, and the change and curve both got better as the game went on."

As for Mejia (0-1), he has struggled in three outings this season, having given up six runs in six innings. Five of those runs came in a brutal start in Milwaukee, where the righty walked five batters and gave up six hits in just three innings of work.

"The one thing I want to make sure Jenrry understands is that we know he throws hard, we know he's got a great arm, but he's got to get comfortable enough so that his command's good," Mets manager Terry Collins said about the pitcher, who missed all of last season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. "I know he's trying to show everybody that he's back being healthy again, but I don't need him to throw 97 [mph]. I need him to make pitches."

New York completed a sweep of Miami on Sunday, finishing off the Fish with a walk-off single by Ruben Tejada in the bottom of the ninth inning. Still, though, the Mets have lost 11 of their last 15 games.

Pittsburgh also won on Sunday, scoring eight runs on 18 hits to avoid a sweep in Houston and halt a five-game losing streak. The Pirates must finish 7-3 to reach 82 wins.

Pirates: 'Survivor' mode to blame for collapse
Many opinions surround Pittsburgh's late-season collapse, and team general manager Neal Huntington offered his own Sunday afternoon.

"We define players in one of three categories, and one of them is 'survivor.' A survivor is someone who cares about surviving, about staying in the big leagues," Huntington said. "We've had some guys fall back into survivor mode these last two months."

Pittsburgh has a 5-17 record over its last 22 games. After reaching 16 games over .500 on Aug. 8, the Pirates' record has worsened to 75-77.

"It isn't a selfish mindset, so to speak," Huntington continued. "But you see men on first-and-second and nobody out, and instead of making sure to get the runner over, you try to hit a three-run homer. Instead of trying to continue an inning, we're going to get the big hit.

"It's well-intended, but when you get outside of your game and try to do too much -- the age-old excuse -- you start to get yourself in trouble. Instead of trusting the teammates behind you, instead of trusting that they'll be able to rally ... 'I'm gonna try to hit the 11-run home run'."

Mets: Wright closing in on franchise hits record
• David Wright's first-inning home run on Sunday brought the third baseman to within three hits of tying Ed Kranepool's all-time franchise hits record of 1,418. On the season, Wright is batting .304 with 19 homers and 84 RBIs.

• In six games against Pittsburgh, with which he won the 2004 NL Rookie of the Year award and was selected to two All-Star games, Jason Bay is batting .143 (3-for-21) with two RBIs.

Worth Noting
• The Mets took two games out of three at PNC Park from May 21-23.

• The Pirates haven't won the season series against New York since 2004, when they came out on top in five of six meetings. Dating back to that year, the Mets are 33-26 against Pittsburgh.

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