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 players clawed back from a seven-run deficit to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates, 9-8, yesterday, 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.

"We needed to start playing better," Jose Reyes said. "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.

In other games:

* At St. Louis, Aubrey Huff and Freddy Sanchez accounted for 10 of the San Francisco Giants' runs in an 12-7 win over the Cardinals. Huff hit three home runs and finished with six RBI while Sanchez had four RBI, including a three-run homer. The Giants regained possession of first place in the NL West by a half-game over Arizona.

* At Phoenix, Jordan Zimmermann (3-6) held Arizona to six hits in seven innings, Micheal Morse went 4-for-5 with two RBI and Wilson Ramos drove in three runs as Washington beat the Diamondbacks, 6-1.

Noteworthy

* Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval is set to begin a rehab assignment today.

Sandoval has been on the disabled list while recovering from surgery on his right wrist. Manager Bruce Bochy said Sandoval would play six innings at Class A San Jose in his first game, then play the next day for the California League team.

After that, he'll play a few more games at Triple A Fresno.

Bochy said the switch-hitting Sandoval has looked good swinging from both sides the last two days, and estimated Sandoval would need four or five games in the minors to get his timing.