Steven Matz knew very quickly that is wasn't going to be his day.
The Mets left-hander had his seven-game winning streak snapped as Jon Niese pitched seven scoreless innings against and Josh Harrison had three hits as the Pirates beat New York 3-1 on Tuesday in the first game of a doubleheader.
Matz (7-2) allowed two runs and eight hits in five innings while losing for the first time since his season debut April 11 against the Miami Marlins. He struck out eight and walked two while losing on the road for the first time in nine career starts after compiling a 6-0 record.
"He didn't command his fastball and you've got to command your fastball to make it work," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "He was up in the zone, up in the zone. He couldn't get the fastball down."
Matz sounded like someone fortunate that he didn't give more runs.
"I had nothing out there," he said. "I was scuffling from the inning on. I tried to go as long as I could but to go five innings on a day of a doubleheader really disappoints me.
"It was one of those days. I don't know why it just happens in baseball sometimes."
Niese (6-2) gave up four hits, walked two and struck out two in helping the Pirates win for the just the second time in seven games. The lefty is 3-0 with a 1.74 ERA in his last five starts.
He was drafted by the Mets in 2005 and spent his entire career in the organization, including eight seasons in the major leagues, before being traded to the Pirates on Dec. 9 for Neil Walker.
"It was a little weird because It's the only organization I knew," Niese said. "All those guys are great over there. I got along with all of them. I definitely miss them but I'm enjoying my time here, too. I had a good game plan going on. I tried to live at the bottom of the strike zone."
It continued a string of five starts in which Niese has allowed two runs or less.
Walker was 1 for 4 in his first time facing the Pirates for the Pittsburgh-area native. He was their first-round draft pick in 2004, made his major league debut in 2009 and spent the last six seasons as the starting second baseman.
The doubleheader was the result of Monday night's scheduled game being rained out.
Mark Melancon pitched a perfect ninth inning for his 18th save in 19 chances.
Harrison tripled to lead off the bottom of the first inning and scored the game's first run on David Freese's single. Harrison then singled, stole second and came home on Andrew McCutchen's single in the fifth to make it 2-0.
The Pirates' Jordy Mercer hit a solo home run in the sixth inning, his second of the season and first at PNC Park since Aug. 31, 2014.
McCutchen, Freese and Jung Ho Kang each had two of the Pirates' 10 hits.
Curtis Granderson accounted for the Mets' run with a leadoff homer in the eighth, his 10th, off Neftali Feliz. Granderson had been 2-for-53 against the Pirates since signing as a free agent with the Mets prior to the 2014 season.
The Mets have lost six of nine, scoring a total of just 22 runs. A total of 14 of their 21 outs against Niese were on ground balls.
"The thing about Jon Niese is that he's going to get his share of ground balls," Collins said. "If you don't go up there with a good approach and try to pull him, he's going to get a lot of easy outs."
Mets: CF Yoenis Cespedes returned to the lineup and went 0 for 3 with a walk after sitting out Saturday at Miami and being limited to a pinch-hitting appearance Sunday against the Marlins.
Pirates: LF Starling Marte was removed for a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning because of a bruised left ankle. C Francisco Cervelli (bruised right foot) was back in the lineup after missing three straight games and Freese (bruised right hand) started at first base after sitting out four games in a row . RHP Ryan Vogelsong rejoined the team a week after undergoing surgery to repair facial fractures sustained May 23 when hit by a pitch by Colorado's Jordan Lyles.
THE 26TH MEN
The Mets recalled INF Eric Campbell from Triple-A Norfolk and the Pirates recalled RHP Wilfredo Boscan from Triple-A Indianapolis as both teams took advantage of the rule in which an extra player can be added to the roster for a doubleheader.
Both players were only allowed to be active for the second game because the doubleheader was scheduled with less than 48 hours' notice.
Mets: RHP Jacob deGrom (3-1, 2.62 ERA) will start the second game. He is winless in his last six starts despite allowing three earned runs or fewer five times.
Pirates: RHP Juan Nicasio (4-4, 4.75) is 1-2 with a 6.23 ERA in his last five starts.