- Associated Press - Saturday, June 3, 2017

NEW YORK (AP) - Neil Walker wore a black T-shirt with No. 21 on the front - Roberto Clemente’s number with the Pirates. He glanced up at a television across the Mets clubhouse and saw his beloved Penguins trailing Nashville by four goals in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final.

“That’s not good,” Walker said, and then smiled: “I’ll give them one.”

No matter how long he’s been gone, no matter how much he torments his hometown team at the plate, Walker’s proud roots remain in Pittsburgh.

The switch-hitter launched a two-run homer against his old club and New York also got long balls from Jay Bruce and Wilmer Flores in beating the Pirates 4-2 on Saturday night to stop a three-game slide.

“The fact that it’s against my former team is great, but I don’t come in here holding grudges,” Walker said.

Robert Gsellman (4-3) won his second consecutive start - likely his last before a move to the bullpen. The rookie tossed 5 1/3 effective innings before Fernando Salas escaped a first-and-third jam, and New York’s shaky relief corps delivered for a change.

Jerry Blevins worked around an error in a scoreless seventh, and Addison Reed pitched out of trouble for two innings to earn his eighth save in 10 chances.

“We’ve needed a win like this for a little while,” Walker said.

First baseman Lucas Duda provided defensive help with a terrific catch in foul territory, and Reed threw 36 pitches to close it out.

It was the first of his 114 career saves that required more than four outs.

“As strapped as we are right now, he’s the one guy who’s rested,” Mets manager Terry Collins said . “We needed it tonight. We had to go outside the box a little bit. … Addy picked us up.”

The Mets have said Gsellman will probably be bumped to the bullpen when Steven Matz and Seth Lugo come off the disabled list. Each made a rehab start Saturday, and both are expected back in a few days.

Pittsburgh rookie Josh Bell homered for the second straight game, and streaking Jordy Mercer doubled twice among his three hits. But the Pirates went 1 for 12 with runners in scoring position and stranded 12 in all.

“We felt like we were on the power play the whole night and couldn’t put a goal in net,” manager Clint Hurdle said.

Rookie starter Tyler Glasnow (2-5) lost to the Mets for the second time in seven days.

The 6-foot-8 Glasnow walked his first batter. Two outs later, Walker drove a 3-1 pitch into the Pirates’ bullpen in right-center for his seventh home run .

Walker, in his second year with the Mets, was born in Pittsburgh and got drafted 11th overall by his hometown team in 2004. He spent his first seven major league seasons with the Pirates before they traded him to New York for pitcher Jonathon Niese.

Last weekend, Walker had a two-homer game at Pittsburgh to help the Mets win the series opener. He has hit safely in all nine career games against the Pirates, batting .361 (13 for 36) with four homers and 10 RBIs.

“I’ve turned the page and most of my family and friends have as well. But yeah, I mean it’s always nice to play well against a former team,” Walker said. “Chalk it up to coincidence, I guess. I’m not swinging any harder. I’m not doing anything different.”

NUMBERS GAME

New York (24-30) avoided falling eight games under .500, a mark the Mets haven’t hit since Sept. 6, 2014. … Gsellman is 2-0 with a 2.95 ERA in his last three starts.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Pirates: RHP Jameson Taillon is scheduled to throw 85-90 pitches in his next rehab start Wednesday with Triple-A Indianapolis. Taillon had surgery May 8 to treat testicular cancer. He threw 49 of 68 pitches for strikes over five innings Friday night for Indianapolis, allowing three hits and an unearned run while striking out six without a walk. “It was a very, very good outing,” Hurdle said, reading directly from a scouting report. “Two-seamer had late bite. I think they actually said it had teeth.” … Still feeling ill, catcher Francisco Cervelli sat out for the second consecutive night and was replaced by Elias Diaz again. Cervelli caught some warmup pitches in uniform between innings.

Mets: Sidelined all season with a partially torn elbow ligament, Lugo tossed a seven-inning complete game for Double-A Binghamton in the opener of a doubleheader against Portland. He allowed six hits, struck out eight and walked none while throwing 67 of 94 pitches for strikes in a 5-1 victory. It is expected to be his final rehab outing before joining the big league rotation. … Matz (elbow inflammation), also out since the end of spring training, threw 61 of 90 pitches for strikes over 4 1/3 innings in his latest rehab start for Triple-A Las Vegas at Reno. He gave up five runs and eight hits with five strikeouts and no walks. As long as they emerge healthy, Collins said Matz and Lugo are likely to start for the Mets next weekend during a four-game series in Atlanta that includes a doubleheader.

UP NEXT

Pirates: Rookie RHP Trevor Williams (2-3, 5.20 ERA) makes his seventh major league start on Sunday, sixth this season.

Mets: RHP Tyler Pill (0-1) gets his second career start in the series finale. Pill’s father, Michael, was drafted in the second round by the Pirates and pitched in their farm system from 1977-79. The younger Pill lost in relief during his big league debut last weekend at Pittsburgh but started Tuesday against Milwaukee and threw 5 1/3 effective innings. He could be headed back to the minors when Matz and Lugo return.

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More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball

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