PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Pirates were desperate for a home run threat, so they rushed back Craig Wilson from a rehabilitation assignment. Turns out the power-hitting Wilson they needed was already in their lineup.
Jack Wilson singled in the go-ahead run in the sixth inning, then hit his first career grand slam in a seven-run seventh to lead the Pirates past the New York Mets 11-4 Saturday night for their first series victory in a month.
The Pirates won their third in a row after going nearly a month without consecutive victories, following up Friday night's frantic 6-5, 10-inning comeback win decided by Humberto Cota's RBI single after the Mets were within one pitch of winning 5-1 in the ninth.
Cota had three more hits Saturday, including a solo homer on an 0-2 pitch by Mets starter Kazuhisa Ishii and a run-scoring double in the seventh. Cota has had important hits in each of the Pirates' three straight wins, including a two-run homer to beat Philadelphia 2-1 Thursday night.
Wilson's fifth homer raised his average to only .229 -- more than 100 points below his .332 average at the break a year ago, when he was the Pirates' only All-Star game representative.
"My game plan is to end the first half on a good note and have a strong second half and make up for it," said Wilson, who drove in a career-high five runs.
Manager Lloyd McClendon urged him a few days ago to wipe the first half from his memory and concentrate on being the player he was a year ago, when his 201 hits tied Hall of Famer Honus Wagner for the most by a Pirates shortstop in a season.
"But I don't want to forget about it because it's an important part of my career," Wilson said. "I want to think about it every day -- every time I think I'm too tired to lift or take extra batting practice, I want to remember the first half."
Jose Castillo added a two-run single in the seventh off Heath Bell and Cota followed with an RBI double off Danny Graves before Wilson homered into the first row of the left-field bleachers, just over the head of Cliff Floyd.
A fan who leaned over the railing and began clapping in Floyd's face was ejected by stadium security before play resumed. Floyd also told Mets manager Willie Randolph the fan spit on him.
Wilson's big game came the same night Craig Wilson played for the first time since injuring a finger May 6, going 1-for-4 with an infield single and two strikeouts. He was activated after going 7-for-17 with three homers at Triple-A Indianapolis.
Even the PNC Park scoreboard crew seem flustered by a breakout inning from a team that began the night tied with Washington for the fewest runs in the majors. Due to a malfunction, the scoreboard linescore could not display the "7" in the Pirates' seventh.
"Games like this have been far and few between for us," McClendon said. "It's nice to have one like this, and hopefully we can build on this."
By taking the first two games of the three-game series, Pittsburgh is assured of its first series win since taking two of three from Tampa Bay from June 10-12. The Mets had won four of their previous five series, only to give back in Pittsburgh any momentum they might have generated by winning three of four tightly played games in Washington.
"I don't think there's any big carryover. Sometimes I think you have to understand the other team wants to win ballgames, too, and when they execute and get timely hits, they win games," Randolph said. "We wanted to win these games and understood they were important games, but wishing and wanting doesn't count in baseball, you've got to go out and get it done."
Pirates starter Dave Williams (7-6) bounced back from his worst start this season, a 12-1 loss Monday to Philadelphia. He won despite allowing Mike Cameron's two-run homer and Floyd's solo drive in a span of three batters in the fifth and sixth innings that turned a 3-0 Pirates lead into a 3-all tie.
Jack Wilson broke that tie after Ishii (2-8) got the first two batters in the sixth. Cota singled and Michael Restovich walked before Wilson singled for the second of his three hits, after beginning the game in a 5-for-28 slump.
- Both Pirates homers came on 0-2 pitches.
- Pirates rookie Ian Snell pitched a scoreless seventh with a one-run lead.
- Ishii has allowed at least one homer in six of seven starts.
- The teams wore uniforms modeled after former Negro League franchises the New York Cubans and the Pittsburgh Crawfords.
- Ishii hasn't lasted past the sixth in five of his last six starts.
- The Mets are 18-26 on the road.
- Jack Wilson is 8-for-12 against Ishii.
- Graves didn't retire any of the three batters he faced, allowing three runs, after not permitting any scoring in his previous three appearances.