Mets turn jeers to cheers with 7-run rally

NEW YORK – Terry Collins was still full of energy, his voice still loud and the words still tumbling out just as fast as they came to mind.

The only thing different this time was the message.

After giving his team a tongue-lashing the previous night, the New York manager watched from the dugout as his team clawed back from a seven-run deficit to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates, 9-8, on Thursday, the Mets’ biggest comeback win in more than a decade.

Collins was quick to the field after the final out, shouting congratulations to his players and slapping them hard on the back as they shook hands between the lines.

“You need wins like this to show you can do it,” Collins said. “You have 27 outs. You don’t stop until the game is over.”

The Mets were already trailing 7-0 when Carlos Beltran’s three-run homer in the third inning gave them a boost. Beltran then hit a leadoff double in the sixth as the Mets scored four times to tie the game. Ruben Tejada delivered a go-ahead sacrifice fly in the eighth off Jose Veras (1-2) and Beltran drew a bases-loaded walk later in the inning.

It was the Mets’ biggest rally to win since June 30, 2000, when they overcame an 8-1 deficit by scoring 10 times in the eighth to beat Atlanta 11-8, STATS LLC said.

“We needed to start playing better,” said Jose Reyes, who sparked the Mets in his return from the bereavement list. “We know we’re better than this. We know our manager is behind us 100 percent, and we have to be behind him.”

New York’s beat-up bullpen hung tough the final four innings to salvage a split of the four-game series. Jason Isringhausen (1-0) worked the eighth and Francisco Rodriguez survived Neil Walker’s RBI single in the ninth for his 16th save.

“You’ve got to play nine innings,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “We weren’t able to do that. We scored early, they scored late. We weren’t able to answer them.”

It was a monumental collapse for Pittsburgh, which had been playing well on the road.

The Pirates won their 17th game away from PNC Park on Wednesday night, matching their total from all of last season, and had won seven of 10 series as the visiting club.

Walker did his part with a two-run homer, Xavier Paul had a career-high four hits and Andrew McCutchen drove in a pair of runs – but almost all that damage came early.

Seven of Pittsburgh’s first 12 batters singled off Mike Pelfrey. No. 13 was Walker, whose two-run shot in the second inning sliced through winds gusting up to 35 mph and bounced off the billboards overhanging the bullpens in right-center field.

The home run gave the Pirates a 6-0 lead, and they tacked on another run in the third on Paul’s third single in as many innings, before the Mets began their comeback.