The ace right-hander allowed one run over seven innings in a 6-1 victory. That left the Mets at 44-44 going into the All-Star break, just eight games behind first-place Washington but in last place in the NL East.
Pitching in Pittsburgh for the first time in eight years and for the first time at PNC Park, Martinez allowed five hits. He walked one and struck out nine. He is 10-3 with a 2.72 ERA.
Martinez was selected to the All-Star team but declined to attend because he was due to pitch on Sunday. He is not scheduled to pitch again until next Sunday so he can get an extended rest at the break.
Martinez has allowed three earned runs or fewer in all but one of his past 10 starts.
Not so fast, Heath.
In the Pirates' 6-5, 10-inning win, the Mets' bullpen -- specifically, RHP Aaron Heilman and RHP Braden Looper -- snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.
Going into the bottom of the ninth, the Mets had a seemingly insurmountable 5-1 lead, looking to close out a Pirates team that had lost 16 of their last 23 games.
It should have been over. It wasn't.
Heilman gave up back-to-back one-out hits to 2B Jose Castillo and 1B Daryle Ward. After getting C Ryan Doumit to fly out to RF Mike Cameron, Heilman walked SS Jack Wilson to load the bases. Mets manager Willie Randolph replaced Heilman with Looper. Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon countered by pinch-hitting CF Tike Redman.
On the 11th pitch of the at-bat, Redman singled to center, scoring Castillo and Ward, bringing the Pirates within two.
An inning later, it got worse for Looper.
The Mets, after taking three-of-four from the Nationals, fell back to .500 (43-43). They also ruined a strong start from RHP Victor Zambrano. In eight innings, Zambrano allowed one run and five hits, while striking out four.
That hasn't happened.
Piazza snapped out of an 0-for-16 skid with three hits and two RBI on Thursday to help the Mets to a 3-2 victory over the Washington Nationals.
Piazza's bloop single in the 11th inning gave the Mets the victory and three out of four in the series at RFK Stadium. The Mets trimmed their deficit in the National League East to eight games.
Piazza, who was given Wednesday off, now has 629 RBIs with the Mets, matching Howard Johnson for second on the franchise career list.
"I think the day off helped," said Piazza, who had gone six games without driving in a run. "My swings were a lot better and I built on that over the course of the game."
Piazza's big day started with an RBI double in the fourth inning.
"Mike's always been a professional hitter, a clutch player. When people started calling for his head, I don't hear all that," Mets manager Willie Randolph said.
"I would love to go if I would get at least one more day of rest. With just one day in between games, I can't pitch like it's a regular game," he said. "I don't want to hurt myself up there. I would like to compete, but if not, let somebody else go get the opportunity." Martinez is 9-3 with a 2.80 ERA. He was replaced on the NL roster by Philadelphia closer Billy Wagner.
The Mets, he pointed out, are very much contenders for the National League wild card.
"If you asked me today, today we're buyers," Minaya said. "The way we feel, we're in the race as far as the wild card is concerned. There's a lot of baseball to play."
The Mets could use another bat and bullpen help. But the market has not yet been established.
"Other clubs are fielding calls, but a lot of teams feel they are still in the wild card," Minaya said. "It's still early."
Manager Willie Randolph said his preference would be to upgrade the offense. That would likely mean trading for a new first baseman or second baseman.
"I don't feel we have to do anything," Randolph said. "Of course I would love to be stronger but I have to focus on the game today and who we have out there."
The Mets have enough reputable prospects to make a deal. But there is little chance Minaya would deal from the top of his deck.
"If you want to build a winning organization, you have to make minor league prospects to bring up in case of injuries and those types of things," Minaya said. "You have to be careful with prospects."
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We gave the game away. We gave it away. We just gave it away." -- Manager Willie Randolph on the Mets blowing a 5-1 lead and losing 6-5 in 10 innings against the Pirates on Friday.