NEW YORK — With catcher Francisco Cervelli feeling ill and ace Gerrit Cole struggling again, Pittsburgh needed a boost at the plate.
Elias Diaz had just the thing for the ailing Pirates.
“Big shot in the arm,” manager Clint Hurdle said.
Diaz hit his first major league homer and drove in six runs as a late addition to the lineup, lifting the Pirates over the New York Mets 12-7 on Friday night.
Diaz hit a go-ahead, three-run shot off reliever Paul Sewald (0-1) during a seven-run sixth inning. Pittsburgh led 11-7 when New York finally retired the side, a swift reversal after the Mets went up 7-4 with a five-run fifth.
Diaz also had a three-run double off Matt Harvey in the fourth. The rookie catcher got the start when Cervelli was scratched just after batting practice, about 30 minutes before the first pitch.
“Those two big swings, that’s a night he’ll never forget,” Hurdle said.
Diaz entered 2 for 12 in six games this season and had just one RBI in a three-year career hampered by injuries.
He had the ball from his first homer in his locker after the game.
“I’m going to keep it with me, right there,” Diaz said through a translator.
Lucas Duda hit a pair of upper-deck homers for New York, and Michael Conforto added his 14th of the season. Each team hit three home runs.
The Pirates bailed out Cole (3-5) on another rocky night for the right-hander. He allowed seven runs and eight hits, including three homers, over five innings. He’s allowed 16 runs and eight homers over his past three starts.
Diaz’s bases-loaded double was a liner off the wall in left-center, and his homer was a low drive that easily cleared the wall in left.
“I was screaming like, ‘Get up! Get up!'” teammate Josh Bell said. “Then I look, and I’m like, ‘That ball doesn’t need to get up at all. It’s already out.’ He hit that ball on the nose. Really impressive. We were all freaking out for him.”
Diaz also began an inning-ending double play on Harvey’s bunt in the second, deftly springing for the ball in front of the right-handed batter’s box to begin the 2-5-4 effort.
Diaz had the first six-RBI game for Pittsburgh since Neil Walker — now with the Mets — on Sept. 23, 2015, at Colorado. He batted with a runner at first in the ninth but struck out.
Pittsburgh matched a season best with its 12 runs.
NEW YORK MESS
Harvey was charged with six runs in five-plus innings, and New York (23-30) tied a season worst by falling seven games under .500.
“Right now, it seems like when we start a game, we’re not sure what we’re going to get,” manager Terry Collins said of his pitching staff. “And that’s not a real good feeling.”
Sewald yielded five runs and five hits while getting only one out in the sixth. The homer by Diaz was the first allowed by Sewald in his big league career. He’d given up three runs total over his previous 20 innings, providing needed stability for New York’s beleaguered bullpen.
“Today was tough,” Sewald said. “You try and regroup every hitter. ‘Now, let’s get this guy.’ I just had a tough time getting through.”
Duda’s first homer was a two-run shot in the second inning that landed roughly 10 rows into the second deck. His solo homer in the fifth was a few rows deeper and estimated at 426 feet by Statcast.
Duda has six homers in his past nine games and 10 overall. He has 118 with the Mets, tying Ed Kranepool for 10th in team history.
The upper-deck shots by Duda weren’t the longest in this slugfest. That honor went to Josh Bell, whose 10th homer of the season was projected at 441 feet to right-center leading off the Pittsburgh sixth.
Pittsburgh’s Josh Harrison hit a solo homer in the eighth, had three hits and also made a spectacular catch in the sixth. The second baseman tracked Conforto’s popup into right field and caught the ball over his left shoulder while sliding to the ground.
The Pirates optioned infielder Gift Ngoepe to Triple-A Indianapolis about a month after he debuted as the first African-born player in the majors. The slick-fielding South African singled in his first plate appearance, but batted .222 without a homer in 28 games prior to the demotion.
Pittsburgh also designated rookie infielder Alen Hanson for assignment and recalled infielders Max Moroff and Phil Gosselin.
Pirates: RHP Jameson Taillon pitched five innings in his second rehab start with Triple-A Indianapolis. Taillon is returning from surgery to treat testicular cancer.
Mets: LHP Steven Matz (left elbow) and RHP Seth Lugo (right elbow) will each make their fourth rehab starts Saturday. Matz is with Triple-A Las Vegas, and Lugo with Double-A Binghamton.
Pirates RHP Tyler Glasnow gave up five runs in five innings to the Mets in a 7-2 loss Sunday. Mets RHP Robert Gsellman (3-3, 5.75) has dropped his ERA by a full run over his past two starts.
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