By RONALD BLUM AP Baseball Writer

NEW YORK (AP) — Matt Harvey was greeted warmly by Mets fans in his return to Citi Field and harshly by New York’s hitters.

Harvey pitched against his former team for the first time and allowed Kevin Pillar’s two-run triple in a three-run second inning that carried the Mets to their seventh straight win, 7-1 over the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday.

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Wearing orange and black instead of blue and orange, Harvey (3-3) gave up a season-high seven runs and eight hits in 4 1/3 innings, and his ERA rose from 3.60 to 4.81 as the last-place Orioles lost for the fifth time in six games.

Taijuan Walker (3-1) lowered his ERA to 2.20, allowing one run and four hits over seven innings as part of a five-hitter.

Dominic Smith had three hits and two RBIs for the NL East-leading Mets, who completed a two-game sweep that finished a 5-0 homestand. New York is on its longest hot streak since winning eight straight from Aug. 3-10, 2019.

Nicknamed the Dark Knight of Gotham and a star of the team that reached the 2015 World Series, Harvey was dealt three seasons ago after pitching poorly and with Mets management peeved as nightlife column mentions approached the frequency of his sports section headlines.

Harvey received a standing ovation from the pandemic-limited crowd of 8,035 when he warmed up for the first, prompting the 32-year-old right-hander to wave twice with his glove and tip his cap. Fans paid tribute with extended applause when he batted in the second and again when walked off with head bowed when pulled in the fifth.

“I didn’t know what to expect in spring training,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said before the game. “This is a guy that has improved since day one of spring training until now.

“He’s kind of reinventing a little bit from a pitching standpoint of how to attack hitters and utilizing his stuff in different ways and found success.”

On the mound where he pitched one-hit ball for nine nearly perfect innings against the Chicago White Sox in 2013, Harvey fell behind when Pete Alonso doubled on 95.1 mph pitch, and Smith singled and Pillar hit a two-run triple off the left-center field wall on consecutive 85.5 mph pitches. José Peraza followed with an RBI single for a 3-0 lead.

Run-scoring singles by Smith in the third and Michael Conforto in the fifth made it 5-0. Shawn Armstrong relieved with two on and allowed Smith’s RBI double and Peraza’s run-scoring single.

Harvey had last pitched at Citi Field on May 3, 2018, allowing five runs in two innings of relief in an 11-0 loss to Atlanta. He was dropped from the roster the next day and traded to Cincinnati on May 8 for catcher Devin Mesoraco.

Viewed as a successor to Tom Seaver and Dwight Gooden, Harvey started the 2013 All-Star Game at Citi Field and memorably talked manager Terry Collins into letting him go out for the ninth inning of World Series Game 5 with a 2-0 lead against Kansas City in 2015. The Royals tied the score off Harvey and went on to win in extra innings against the bullpen for the title.

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Harvey was 25-18 with the Mets from 2012-15, then went 9-19 with a 3.66 ERA from 2015-18 for a 34-37 record during a tenure interrupted by Tommy John surgery and an operation to correct thoracic outlet syndrome. He has been a vagabond since, pitching for the Reds, Los Angeles Angels (2019), Oakland’s Triple-A affiliate (2019) and Kansas City (2020). He signed a minor league contract with the Orioles in February and gained a $1 million salary when put on the big league roster.

WEB GEM

Conforto made a sprawling backhand grab in right to rob Austin Hays in the third, a play reminiscent of Ron Swoboda’s catch against the Orioles’ Brooks Robinson in Game 4 of the 1969 World Series.

COVID WATCH

Baltimore said it reached 85% vaccination for tier 1 and 2 personnel, allowing the Orioles to relax MLB’s coronavirus protocols, such as jettisoning masks in dugouts and bullpens and eliminating some movement restrictions on trips. “Very proud as an organization,” Hyde said.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Orioles: RHP Hunter Harvey (oblique) is scheduled for simulated games at the Orioles’ spring training complex. … OF Anthony Santander (sprained left ankle) is running bases at the complex.

Mets: CF Albert Almora Jr. was put on the 10-day IL with a bruised left shoulder, a day after crashing into wall trying to catch Hays’ fly. … OF Khalil Lee was recalled from Triple-A Syracuse.

UP NEXT

Orioles: A pitcher for Friday’s homestand opener against the Yankees has not been announced.

Mets: LHP David Peterson (1-3, 5.54) starts Friday at Tampa Bay.

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