A slumping Zach Duke limited the Mets to one run over seven innings and Jose Tabata and Lastings Milledge homered, allowing the Pittsburgh Pirates to salvage the final game of the three-game series by beating New York 2-1 on Sunday.
Duke, a loser of eight of his previous 11 starts, struck out five and walked two to win for only the third time in 13 starts since May 18.
The Mets scored on Carlos Beltran's sacrifice fly in the first after leadoff batter Jose Reyes singled, moved to second on catcher Ryan Doumit's throwing error and stole third. But they had only three singles off the left-hander over the next six innings. Duke (6-12) is 4-1 against the Mets in seven career starts.
The Pirates, trying to dodge their first 100-loss season since 2001, had lost five in a row and 12 of 13 to fall 43 games below .500 at 40-83. The Mets were denied their first road sweep of an NL opponent this season.
Mets starter Johan Santana (10-8) didn't allow a hit until Pedro Alvarez's leadoff single in the fifth, but, after a double play, Milledge homered to center — his fourth of the season. Milledge started for only the second time in seven games despite having a .303 average in his last 47 games.
Tabata, one of three rookies in the Pirates lineup, hit the third homer of his career with two outs in the sixth to make it 2-1.
Santana went the distance for New York, giving up only two other hits over eight innings while striking out nine and walking one. The Pirates won despite being held to two runs or fewer for the ninth time in 10 games.
Evan Meek pitched a scoreless eighth inning before Joel Hanrahan pitched the ninth for his second save in five chances.
After scoring 12 runs in 14 innings in the first two games of the series, the Mets went back into the slump that saw them score three runs or fewer in 10 of 12 games.
NOTES: The Pirates' two top draft picks, RHPs Jameson Taillon and Stetson Allie, reported to short-season Class A State College for organizational orientation. Neither will pitch until the fall Florida Instructional League, where recently signed 16-year-old Luis Heredia also will report. ... None of the three will be in the Pirates' major league spring training camp in February. The last two Pirates first-rounders had invitations to camp included in their contracts. ... Duke had lost eight of his last 11 starts, winning twice with one no-decision. ... Santana gave up two runs after surrendering one or fewer in seven of 10 starts.