PITTSBURGH (AP) – Pedro Martinez made it look so effortless and easy in his first start in Pittsburgh in nearly eight years, maybe he should think about pitching in the All-Star game after all.

Carlos Beltran hit a two-run homer in the first inning to give Martinez the only runs he needed against a once-familiar and oft-beaten opponent, and the New York Mets avoided a sweep by beating the outmatched Pirates 6-1 Sunday.

Mike Cameron added a two-run double to help the Mets get back to .500 at 44-44 at the break after a rough start to a weekend in which they hoped to pick up ground in the NL East. They were within a strike of winning by four runs Friday before losing 6-5 in the 10th, then were battered during a seven-run Pirates seventh inning in an 11-4 loss Saturday.

But Martinez (10-3) fixed all that as he remained the one positive constant in a decidedly uneven Mets season. The right-hander was in control in his first start in Pittsburgh since 1997, striking out four in the first two innings and nine overall in seven innings to win his eighth in 10 decisions.

Pittsburgh’s No. 3-6 hitters – Jason Bay, Daryle Ward, Craig Wilson and Jose Castillo – were a combined 0-for-12 against Martinez, who gave up five hits and walked one while throwing 67 of 95 pitches for strikes.

Nothing new there, even if it’s been a long time since he faced the Pirates: he is 9-3 with a 2.78 ERA in 17 career appearances against them, most while with the Montreal Expos. His previous win in Pittsburgh was a 5-4 decision on Sept. 10, 1997.

Martinez passed up the chance to pitch in the All-Star game Tuesday because he started Sunday but, as easy as this was, he might want to reconsider.

Pirates starter Kip Wells (6-9) was as bad as Martinez was good despite coming off his best career start, a four-hit shutout Tuesday of the Phillies in which he struck out 12. Wells was effectively out of this one after three batters.

Jose Reyes singled to start the first for the first of his four hits, and moved up on Mike Cameron’s single into short center field, though Cameron was thrown out trying to stretch his hit into a double.

Beltran, whose first half was hardly what the Mets expected of a $119 million player, followed by hitting the first pitch he saw from Wells into the right-field seats for his 10th homer to make it 2-0. All but one of his home runs this season have been hit in games started by Martinez.

Cameron’s two-run double came in a three-run fifth started by Reyes’ RBI single, which scored Miguel Cairo – whom the Pirates thought they had retired twice in the inning. Cairo singled, then was called safe at second on Martinez’s sacrifice bunt though TV replays suggested he was out. He then stole third, although catcher Humberto Cota’s throw arrived well before he did.

Wells gave up five runs and nine hits in five innings.

Notes: Martinez started in PNC Park for the first time. … The Mets are just 2-7 against the Pirates the last two seasons. … The Mets went 4-3 on a road trip to Washington and Pittsburgh, winning three of four from the Nationals. … Martinez has allowed three earned runs or fewer in all but one of his last 10 starts. … Beltran is 5-for-10 against Wells. … Until Sunday, the Mets had been outscored 45-27 in the first inning. … Craig Wilson is 1-for-8 with five strikeouts since returning Saturday from long injury layoff. He had been out since May 6 with a left middle finger injury.

AP-ES-07-10-05 1612EDT

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