Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Just When You Think the Mets Can’t Get Worse ...

ATLANTA — A day after it appeared that the Mets wanted to rush through the rest of the season and get it over with, they worked hard for a win here Wednesday night — their manager pushing buttons and making moves as if this was a meaningful September game once again against the Braves.

All the labor, however, was ruined in a disappointing ninth inning, just another chapter to a disappointing season.

Leading by 5-4, the Mets asked closerFrancisco Rodriguez, who had recorded an out to end a threat in the eighth, to get three more outs in the bottom of the ninth. But he could not and the Braves won, 6-5.

The Mets first baseman Daniel Murphy committed an error on a high chopper by the former Mets outfielder Ryan Church, who plated the winning run with two outs in the ninth.

“Inexcusable, got to make that play,” Murphy said. “It’s a play I make 100 times, I booted it, and we lost the ball game. It’s tough any time we lose a ball game and you feel personably responsible.” Murphy insisted the Mets never should have been in that position. Garret Anderson, the first hitter for the Braves in the ninth, hooked a double down the right-field line past Murphy who was guarding the line. Murphy said the ball was foul.

“No question,” Murphy said. “I thought it was foul.”

Rodriguez, whose last 109 save opportunities were just an inning or less dating to July 2007, then hit Brian McCann with a pitch to put runners on first and second. Yunel Escobar sacrificed the runners over and Adam LaRoche was walked intentionally.

Omar Infante’s sacrifice fly scored pinch-runner Reid Gorecki to tie the score, 5-5. Church followed with his high chopper that Murphy tried to scoop off the ground, but the ball ran up his arm and bounced away allowing pinch-runner David Ross to race home with the winner.

Jerry Manuel, the Mets’ manager, said he was confident Rodriguez could get four outs, and Rodriguez offered no alibis for failing to do so.

“I feel well, pretty good,” Rodriguez said. “I have no problem with that, they can call over there any time they want to get four or five outs,” Rodriguez said.

The Mets had taken a 5-4 lead in the top of the eighth on Omir Santos’s pinch-hit home run.

If there had been just one more extra base hit by the Mets, the game would have been long over. The Mets had 16 hits, but 13 were singles. They stranded 14 base runners. The futility was its worst in the fifth inning when they had four hits and scored just one run.

David Wright and Jeff Francoeur each had three hits for the Mets, who were 4 of 12 with runners in scoring position. It was base runners galore for a team that came into the game tied for second in the National League in batting average, but 11th in runs scored.

Bobby Parnell, the Mets’ starter Wednesday, needed to have some semblance of a decent start to stay in consideration for a roster spot in 2010, but he could not make it through the Braves’ lineup for a second time.

Parnell, a 6-foot-4 right-hander, can run the ball up to the plate at 94 miles per hour, but he had familiar issues of poor command of his secondary pitches and left his fastballs high and hittable.

Parnell lasted just three and a third innings and gave up seven hits and four runs, walking three and striking out four.

Manuel, however, kept mixing and matching with his bullpen to overcome the poor start and the absence of a big hit. He used six relievers to pick up for Parnell and the sixth, his star Rodriguez, got worked over and saddled with the loss.

“We put together good at-bats most of the game, then lose it, it’s tough,” said Jeff Francoeur, the Mets’ right fielder. “We worked hard in that game.”


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