PITTSBURGH – Neil Walker got to sleep in his own bed and return to his favorite corner of PNC Park. The Pittsburgh native and former Pirate returned to his hometown to enthusiastic applause Friday night, but after homering twice to his favorite right field corner and driving in four runs in the Mets 8-1 win, he had worn out his welcome.
Jacob deGrom dominated for 8.1 innings, the first Mets starter to go at least eight innings this season. The Mets (20-26) snapped a two-game losing streak and a six-game road skid.
DeGrom held the Pirates to a run on six hits. He walked one and struck out 10.
And Walker, who was worn out by emotions and demands on his time last season when he came back for the first time after being traded, made it a memorable night.
“I was able to get ahead of things,” Walker said. “I knew what to expect some of the off the field stuff. More than that, I was much less anxious tonight than I was last year.
Walker, whose father settled in Pittsburgh after playing for the Pirates, homered twice and singled driving in four runs Friday, one shy of his career high. That pushed him over the 500-RBI mark for his career. It was his fifth career multi-home run game. They were the first two home runs Walker hit in PNC Park since he was dealt by the team that drafted him back in 2004 to the Mets for lefty starter Jon Niese.
Walker, who still lives in Pittsburgh in the offseason, now has 44 home runs in PNC Park and is hitting 8-for-20 (.400) with a double, three home runs and seven RBI in five games against the Pirates in the last two seasons.
Walker’s shot in the third scored Jose Reyes, who had reached on a wild pitch after striking out. Reyes scored again after tripling in the fifth, on Jay Bruce’s sacrifice fly, right before Walkers’ second shot of the night.
Walker, an avid Pittsburgh sports fan who was still celebrating the Penguins Eastern Conference championship, is hitting .344 with eight doubles, a triple, four home runs and 18 RBI in 22 games in May.
“I got to my house about 4 a.m. and got to sleep in my own bed, which was nice,” Walker said, before adding with a smile, “and (daughter Nora) got up at 7 a.m. Happy to be home.”
Tired or not, Walker led an impressive offense from the Mets.
Lucas Duda, who doubled, scored the Mets’ first run on Curtis Granderson’s single in the third. He drove in two more runs in the sixth on a double over the head of Pirates right fielder Gregory Polanco’s head.
DeGrom made all that offense stand up with not only his longest start of the season, but his most impressive. He held the Pirates lineup mostly in check, surrendering just six hits and a walk.
After a leadoff home run to Polanco in the fourth, deGrom retired 10 straight Pirates, getting through the seventh inning for his second straight start and into the eighth for the first time this season.
In fact, it was the first time this season a Mets starter had even gotten through the eighth inning this season.
PLAY OF THE GAME
Jose Reyes showed he still has some speed left in those legs, turning a flyball over Andrew McCutchen’s head into a sliding triple in the fifth.
Jose Reyes reached base on a dropped third strike with one out in the third. After Jay Bruce flied out with what should have been the final out of the inning, Neil Walker hit a two-run homer to make it 3-1 Mets.
STAR OF THE GAME
Neil Walker surpassed the 500-RBI plateau with his three Friday night. Walker had a two-run shot in the third and a solo homer in the fifth and singled in another run in the sixth.
Neil Walker is hitting .400 against his former team.
Lucas Duda went 2 for 4, including a 2-run double in the sixth that gave the Mets a comfortable 8-1 lead. Duda is starting to get hot, hitting .316 in his last seven games with a homer, five RBI and six walks.
Michael Conforto was the only Mets starter without a hit Friday night.
Saturday at Pittsburgh, 7:15 p.m.
RHP Zack Wheeler (3-2, 3.74) vs. RHP Gerrit Cole (2-5, 3.36)