PITTSBURGH — Clint Hurdle was in no mood for second-guessing.
Gerrit Cole returned from the disabled list Saturday and pitched poorly as the Pittsburgh Pirates lost to the New York Mets 5-3.
Cole (6-4), who leads the Pirates in victories, lasted just four innings. Activated from the DL earlier in the day, he was tagged for five runs and seven hits. Cole had been out since June 4 with right shoulder fatigue.
The Pirates opted to have Cole pitch three simulated games while he was rehabbing instead of pitching in game competition in the minor leagues. When Hurdle was asked if the Pirates made a mistake by not sending Cole to the minors, he gave a short answer.
“Hindsight is always 20-15,” Hurdle said.
Cole said he felt prepared to pitch and wouldn’t quibble with the way the Pirates handled his rehab.
“I was sharp in the sim games, the delivery was great, but today I just wasn’t very sharp,” he said. “The ball was elevated a lot of times and flat. I didn’t get hit around too hard, but I was just not sharp. I didn’t expect to be nails coming out, but I definitely expected to be better.”
Cole blamed his mindset on his poor outing rather than having not pitched in a real game in 24 days as the Pirates lost for the just the second time in eight games.
“I think it would have been a lot better if I were to have taken less focus off the hitters and put more on myself and not tried to do too much,” he said. “I think I was a little too results-oriented.”
Jonathon Niese extended his streak of solid starts with six gritty innings, rookie and Eric Campbell had three hits while subbing for seven-time All-Star third baseman David Wright as the Mets ended their three-game losing streak.
After the game, the Mets got good news on Wright’s sore left shoulder: There was no structural damage in the joint.
“I think it’s important with (Wright) out that a bunch of other people need to step up and today we had timely hitting and timely pitching and were able to get a W, which was nice,” Campbell said.
The Mets said Wright had a bruised left rotator cuff. He will be treated with anti-inflammatories before being re-evaluated on Monday. For now, the Mets think Wright can avoid a trip to the DL.
Niese (5-4) gave up three runs and scattered seven hits. It was his 20th straight outing without allowing more than three runs, dating to last season.
He was handed a 5-0 lead by the middle of the second inning, but he nearly squandered it by issuing consecutive bases-loaded walks to Pedro Alvarez and Chris Stewart in the fourth and an RBI single to Neil Walker in the fifth that made it a two-run game.
Neise, however, made it through the sixth, Jeurys Familia followed with two perfect innings, and Jenrry Mejia pitched a perfect ninth for his eighth save.
Campbell drove in the first run in a three-run first inning with a double off Cole. Daniel Murphy capped the Mets’ scoring with a two-run single with two outs in the second.
NOTES: Right-hander Brandon Cumpton was optioned by Pittsburgh to Triple-A Indianapolis to clear a roster spot for Cole. ... Right-hander Ernesto Frieri joined the Pirates a day after being acquired from the Los Angeles Angels in a trade for right-hander Jason Grilli and pitched a perfect inning of relief. ... Marte was unable to start for the fourth consecutive game because of a jammed middle finger and the pinch-hitting appearance was the first time he batted since being injured Tuesday. ... The Mets had Niese bat eighth and left fielder Eric Young Jr. hit ninth, marking the third time in the last seven games manager Terry Collins had the pitcher hit No. 8. ... The four-game series concludes today with New York right-hander Bartolo Colon (8-5, 3.67) attempting to win his seventh straight decision as he faces right-hander Edinson Volquez (5-6, 4.35).