'Wanted to do it here in Pittsburgh': McCutchen gets 2,000th hit

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Sunday, June 11, 2023

PITTSBURGH -- Andrew McCutchen recorded his 2,000th hit, Jack Suwinski hit his 12th home run and the Pittsburgh Pirates edged the Mets 2-1 on Sunday, New York's eighth loss in nine games.

McCutchen became the 291st player and fifth active player to reach 2,000 hits when he turned on a slider from Carlos Carrasco (2-3) leading off the first and laced it to left field.

The five-time All-Star, who signed a one-year deal in January to return to the team he starred for from 2009 to '17, drew a loud ovation from his adopted hometown as he rounded first base. His wife, Maria, and their three children watched from a private box along the third-base line.

McCutchen became the fifth active player with 2,000 career hits, after Miguel Cabrera (3,110), Joey Votto (2,093), Nelson Cruz (2,043) and Elvis Andrus (2,027).

"To be able to do it on the last day ... I wanted to do it here in Pittsburgh," McCutchen said, referring to the last game of the Pirates' homestand. "I was glad to be able to do it here. It was a special moment."

McCutchen's return to Pittsburgh has provided a spark to the surprising Pirates. And he is thriving in the role of elder statesman trying to help a young group learn how to win.

"When you see someone of his caliber of player that's chasing a milestone and staying consistent with their approach 100%, there's no better model for young players than watching a veteran player handle himself like that," Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton said.

His approach as the milestone was in sight offered a lesson in patience. McCutchen entered Sunday having drawn 12 walks in his past nine games. He didn't let the count get that deep against Carrasco, swinging at the third pitch he saw to reach 2,000 just over 14 years after his first big league hit, a single against the Mets on June 4, 2009.

After the hit, the Pirates played a video on the giant video screen with several Pittsburgh sports legends offering their congratulations to McCutchen. Included in that production was former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby.

"It was special to hear those messages from them," McCutchen said. "It is something special to cherish."

Mitch Keller (8-2) allowed two hits in seven innings to bounce back after three somewhat shaky starts for the Pirates, who went 6-3 during a season-long nine-game homestand to move into first place in the National League Central (34-30). David Bednar worked around a one-out double by Tommy Pham in the ninth for his 14th save in 15 chances.

Jeff McNeil hit his third home run of the season for New York, but the Mets, with a record $355 million payroll, finished a 1-5 trip through Atlanta and Pittsburgh by struggling to generate much of anything against Keller.

Keller was pushed around by Oakland in his most recent start in what became an 11-2 loss to the lowly A's. He responded by returning to the form he displayed for most of the first two months when he showed signs of emerging as the ace the Pirates have been looking for since Joe Musgrove and Jameson Taillon left after the 2020 season.

The 27-year-old's only rough patch came in the fourth when McNeil led off with a homer, Brett Baty walked and Mark Canha was hit by a pitch. Keller settled down to retire the last 10 batters he faced while shaving his ERA to 3.41.

Carrasco, 36, making his first start on normal four days' rest this season, weaved in and out of danger during 4 innings in which he allowed two runs on six hits with three walks and a strikeout.

Carrasco, who missed more than a month with a bone chip in his right elbow that caused excessive swelling, allowed the leadoff hitter to reach in four of the five innings he started, including Suwinski's shot off the foul pole in right in the fourth. Ji Hwan Bae doubled with one out and scored on Tucupita Marcano's single later in the inning. Carrasco was pulled with two runners on and two out in the fifth.

New York's bullpen kept Pittsburgh close, but the Mets -- forced to play for at least the next three weeks without injured major league home run leader Pete Alonso -- reached third base only twice against Keller and two relievers.

A lack of awareness didn't help. Mets pinch hitter Luis Guillorme was called out on strikes leading off the eighth for a pitch timer violation when home plate umpire Dan Merzel ruled Guillorme wasn't ready to face Dauri Moreta with eight seconds left on the clock.

Information from Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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