PHILADELPHIA-- The Mets have completed another losing road trip. This one coming against the two teams in front of them in their own division.
The Mets had to face Phillies ace Roy Halladay today, but they thought they had a chance to match him with R.A. Dickey on the mound.
It didn't happen. In fact, what was supposed to be a pitchers' duel turned out to be a hard-fought slugfest.
The Mets got off to a promising start. They hit Roy Halladay hard in the first inning, producing a run two batters in. Jose Reyes doubled and was driven in by Angel Pagan, giving the Mets a quick 1-0 lead. Pagan would then steal both second and third base and scored on an Ike Davis infield single off the glove of Halladay.
The Mets seemed in pretty good shape with Dickey pitching, having thrown six quality starts in his last seven.
Although the Phillies didn't score in the first inning, signs were not pointing in the right direction. The three hitters all hit the ball hard against him, as Dickey's knuckleball wasn't sharp.
It would only take until the second inning. Jayson Werth hit what appeared to be a pop fly, but the ball carried over the center field fence to cut the deficit to 2-1. Carlos Beltran kept going back on the ball, and bumped his head against the fence, not knowing where the wall was.
After a shaky first inning, Halladay settled down to retire 10 batters in a row, while the Phillies kept hitting Dickey.
They knocked him around in the third, and Dickey suffered his worst inning as a Met. The Phillies sent 11 men to the plate, scoring five runs on seven hits to take a 6-2 lead.
After a Jimmy Rollins double, Jose Reyes made a fielding error. Lately, he has been making some errors, and most of them have opened the door to big innings. It did once again.
Two batters later, Raul Ibanez hit a three-run home run, giving the Phillies a 5-2 lead. Later in the inning, former Met Brian Schneider would add a run on a single.
Dickey would be done after three innings, allowing six runs (four earned) on eight hits, and one walk.
The Mets started to rally back from the four run deficit against Halladay in the sixth. Just like in the opening inning, Jose Reyes doubled and Pagan singled him in, making it 6-3.
The Mets bullpen did a great job keeping the team in the game, not allowing a run after Dickey's departure.
The Mets continued to fight back in the seventh. Fernando Martinez led off with his first Major League hit of the season. Josh Thole followed with a double, moving the runner to third.
Ruben Tejada grounded into a run-scoring play. That was followed by a Chris Carter pinch-double, cutting the Phillies lead to 6-5.
With two on and one out, down a run, Pagan flew out and Beltran struck out for a third time to end the inning.
In the ninth, facing Brad Lidge, the Mets got a leadoff single from Thole; his third hit of the game. After two straight groundouts moving Thole to third, Reyes flew out to center, as the Mets fell 90 feet short of completing the comeback.
The shame of it is, the Mets did a good job against Halladay, and their young players contributed in the comeback effort. Unfortunately, Dickey just didn't have it, and therefore the Mets finish off a losing road trip.
They were not helped out by their middle of the order, especially Beltran and Wright, who each struck out three times.
Beltran hasn't looked good at the plate since his return, and he looked awful today in the field. So much so, that he was pulled in a double-switch in the seventh inning.
The Mets are now 0-7 in road rubber games this season, and have gone 40 straight games without winning consecutive games. That run of futility is the longest streak of such games without back-to-back wins in the Majors this season.
The most important note of all, is that with today's Braves win, the Mets fall nine games out of first place.
They'll try to turn things around at home, starting Tuesday night against the Rockies. It'll be a tough challenge for the Mets, as they'll face Ubaldo Jimenez.
NL East standings (top 3 teams)
Philadelphia 62-49 (2)
NY Mets 55-56 (9)
NL Wild Card (Leader and Mets)
San Francisco 63-49
NY Mets 55-56 (7 1/2)
Next series probable pitchers:
New York: Mike Pelfrey (2010: 10-6, 4.16 ERA) vs. Colorado: UIbaldo Jimenez (2010: 17-2, 2.61 ERA)
New York: Jon Niese (2010: 7-5, 3.63 ERA) vs. Colorado: Jeff Francis (2010: 4-4, 4.67 ERA)
New York: Johan Santana (2010: 9-6, 3.06 ERA) vs. Colorado: Jason Hammel (2010: 8-6, 4.38 ERA)
New York Mets:
August 10-12 vs. Colorado Rockies
August 13-15 vs. Philadelphia Phillies
August 10-12 @ New York Mets
August 13-15 vs. Milwaukee Brewers