The Pirates won two of three in Cleveland, with Wednesday's 4-0 loss ending an 11-game winning streak that was the franchise's longest since 1996. The strong run allowed Pittsburgh (53-50), which at one point was flirting with giving Cincinnati a run for the cellar in the National League Central, to not only get back above .500 but also pass St. Louis and move into third in the division.
The Pirates had scored six or more runs in seven straight games before they ran into a wall named Trevor Bauer, the Cleveland starter who held them to two hits over seven-plus innings Wednesday.
"He made good pitches. As we've said all along the way, good pitching stops good hitting," said Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle, who nonetheless recognized his team's strong play through its streak.
"I'm incredibly proud of the men. They've gone out and played baseball, they've bonded up, they've worked together, they've fought, and we've worked our way back into things. Lot of season left. This is a great growth opportunity for us. There's more in front of us."
The Pirates are opening a nine-game homestand.
The Mets (41-58) won 6-4 Wednesday to take two of three from San Diego. It was their first series win since May 18-20 against Arizona, and they are still in also-ran territory in the NL East.
New York will be without outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, not only for the series but for the season. It was announced Wednesday that he will undergo surgery this week to have bone calcifications removed from both heels.
"Certainly, when you don't have one of your best players on the field, you have to look at your team differently," Mets assistant general manager John Ricco said. "At this point, we just found this information out in the last day or so. I think it's a little bit too quick to speculate as to how we're going to change our plan moving forward."
Pittsburgh could be without two starting outfielders. Corey Dickerson left Tuesday's game and missed Wednesday's because of a hamstring problem. Starling Marte left in the first inning Wednesday after being hit on the back of the left hand with a pitch. Hurdle indicated the hand isn't broken but the resulting contusion could be limiting.
In the opener of the four-game series, New York left-hander Steven Matz (4-8, 3.65 ERA) is scheduled to face right-hander Nick Kingham (5-4, 4.11 ERA).
Matz has lost three starts in a row, including Saturday when he gave up five runs and nine hits in five innings in a 7-6 loss to the New York Yankees.
"Everything was up in the zone," Matz said. "Just wasn't sharp out there overall."
Kingham, a rookie who will be facing the Mets for the first time, has won three straight starts, allowing a combined six runs with 17 strikeouts in 18 2/3 innings.
In Saturday's 6-2 win against Cincinnati, he gave up two runs in 6 1/3 innings and at the plate had his second multiple-RBI game in three starts.