PITTSBURGH (AP) -- The New York Mets are giving their star third baseman some time thanks to a back injury that won't go away. They hope a rare misstep by their ace is a far more temporary setback.
Matt Harvey's dazzling return from elbow surgery hit its first significant bump on Saturday as the Pittsburgh Pirates pushed him around in an 8-2 loss. Harvey lasted just four innings and gave up seven runs, both career worsts.
"Everything was kind of all over the place," Harvey said. "I wasn't locating obviously. My arm feels fine, my body feels fine. It was one of those days where if I tried to spin it, it was over the middle. If I tried to throw a fastball in, it was away and vice versa. It's just a pretty terrible outing."
One that came shortly after the team announced David Wright would be shut down for a week when the back issue that's helped keep him sidelined since mid-April flared up again after taking batting practice on Friday. The Mets believe rest is all Wright needs to get healthy.
The prognosis for Harvey (5-2) is far more promising. He stressed his elbow is fine. Still, manager Terry Collins allowed that Harvey has made everything look so easy over the last two months that it's easy to forget he was ever hurt in the first place.
"You still have to realize, he's first back from the operation," Collins said. "He's looked so good and we just get so carried away that he's never going to have a bad day that when he does, it's shocking for us all."
The anticipated showdown between two of the top pitchers in the National League never materialized. A.J. Burnett (4-1) allowed one run while striking out a season-high 10 without a walk to lower his ERA to 1.37, tops in the majors.
"He's pitching as well as I've ever seen him pitch," Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said of Burnett. "He's doing more. He's doing his job."
And for once, Harvey did not. He came in riding a 16-inning scoreless streak. It ended abruptly in the first when Pittsburgh's Andrew McCutchen sent a 96 mph fastball into the home bullpen in center field for a two-run homer. Pedro Alvarez added a solo shot in the second that landed in the last row of seats in right field.
The Pirates tacked on four in the fourth, an inning that included a pair of wild pitches from Harvey - matching his total for the entire 2013 season - two walks and a two-run double by Josh Harrison.
"You leave stuff over the middle, you're going to get hurt," Harvey said. "I'd like to say it's not going to be the last time I get hit like that because hopefully I'll have a long career.
New York has dropped four of five. Daniel Murphy had two hits, and Ruben Tejada homered for the Mets.
Wright's time on the disabled list - first with a strained right hamstring and then with back problems - appeared to finally take a step forward when he took live batting practice on Friday. The pain that has bothered him for the better part of a month returned and an exam revealed he has stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal column. New York will have Wright take seven days off before reassessing him and figuring out which way to go.
"It's just something that seems to be taking longer than we initially thought," Mets assistant general manager John Ricco said. "The way it was progressing, (doctors) thought it would be gone by now."
The Mets certainly miss the seven-time All-Star's bat. After initially flourishing when Wright went on the DL in mid-April, New York has scored two or fewer runs 11 times in May and Wright's replacement, Eric Campbell, is hitting .188.
Pirates: OF Andrew Lambo's progress while dealing with plantar fasciitis in his left foot has been slow. Hurdle said the foot "is not showing any signs of improvement to get him into a game." Lambo is eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list on Sunday. He has just one hit in 25 at bats (.040) this season.
The series concludes on Sunday when Pittsburgh's Francisco Liriano (1-4, 4.15 ERA) faces New York's Jonathon Niese (3-4, 3.72). Liriano is coming off arguably his worst performance in two-plus seasons in Pittsburgh. The lefthander gave up seven runs in two innings against Minnesota on Tuesday and the Pirates are just 1-7 in Liriano's eight starts. Niese had similar troubles his last time out, getting tagged for eight runs in five innings during a loss to St. Louis.