Troubled Mets no road warriors

Mets starter Jon Niese pitched seven strong innings, holding the Phillies to one run. His bullpen had less success in the eighth, surrendering six runs and spoiling Niese's effort.
Mets starter Jon Niese pitched seven strong innings, holding the Phillies to one run. His bullpen had less success in the eighth, surrendering six runs and spoiling Niese's effort.
Posted: August 07, 2010

If these were good times for the Mets, they would have looked at the Phillies' depleted lineup and licked their chops at the chance to take them on when they appear vulnerable.

But the Mets arrived at Citizens Bank Park on Friday to begin a three-game series with problems of their own, lots of problems. So they took small comfort in facing a Phillies lineup without Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, and Shane Victorino.

"It doesn't matter who they have out there, we've got to find a way to win," the Mets' all-star third baseman, David Wright, said before the New York bullpen unraveled in the Phillies' 7-5 win. "Obviously, they're missing some of their key guys, and, hopefully, we can take advantage of that. But at the same time, when you're a good team like that and a good organization, you have guys who step up for the guys who are hurt and that's what those guys are doing now."

Unfortunately for the Mets, some Phillies second-tier players did it again, especially during the six-run eighth inning, dropping the Mets below .500, seven games behind the second-place Phillies in the East Division.

"It's a tough loss, a very tough loss," said manager Jerry Manuel, whose grip on his job was further loosened. "But we still feel like we've got a shot. We've got to put something together . . . real quick."

While one Phillies player after another has been pulling up lame, the Mets have been in free fall since they were 11 games over .500 on June 27, a half-game behind Atlanta in the East Division.

In the eighth inning of Friday's loss, Bobby Parnell and Pedro Feliciano came out of the bullpen and set fire to a 2-1 lead that 23-year-old lefthander Jon Niese handed them by allowing six runs.

"I think I was overthrowing," said Parnell, who allowed four runs without getting an out. "We've got a really good bullpen and I think the next two games are going to be critical, and this isn't going to happen again. It's a big game to lose, but it's a series and we'll get the next two."

But the main reason the Mets dropped below .500 has been poor hitting, and there was more of that Friday. Until pinch-hitter Mike Hessman hit a three-run homer in the ninth, all nine Mets hits were singles.

The Mets' 21-36 road record is 24th in the majors.

The cold bats are what has puzzled Manuel the most. The Mets went into Friday's game hitting .212 and averaging fewer than three runs in the 21 games since the all-star break.

Sitting at a desk before the game, Manuel perused his lineup card, shook his head said, "We haven't done the things you'd think this offense was capable of doing."


Contact staff writer Ray Parrillo at 215-854-2743

or rparrillo@phillynews.com.

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