San Francisco Giants
WHAT IT MEANS: Matt Cain tossed six scoreless innings and the Mets headed into the All-Star break on a down note with a 4-2 loss to San Francisco. The Amazin’s are 46-45 at the break -- 7½ games behind the Braves in the wild-card race and 11 games behind the Phillies in the division. Having lost three of four games against All-Star starting pitchers to close the first half -- the defeats coming to Clayton Kershaw, Tim Lincecum and Cain -- the Mets inched closer to becoming sellers before the July 31 trade deadline.
IT’S A RELIEF: Jon Niese, who does not work again until Saturday against the Phillies, entered in relief in the seventh inning. Niese’s last professional relief appearance had come in 2005 in the Gulf Coast League, the year he was drafted in the seventh round out of high school in Defiance, Ohio. Niese faced three batters and was pulled with two runners in scoring position and one out. D.J. Carrasco allowed both inherited runners to score as San Francisco took a 4-0 lead. Carrasco had stranded all 13 runners he inherited this season entering Sunday.
O-NO: The Mets were 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position until Justin Turner's two-out, RBI double in the ninth against Brian Wilson. Turner had four hits.
The biggest letdown? Daniel Murphy’s lineout to second base with the bases loaded for the final out of the top of the third. Murphy also committed his third error in the past four games, all at third base.
Jason Bay went 0-for-4 Sunday and was 1-for-19 during the final five games of the trip, after a two-homer game at Dodger Stadium.
OPENING THOUGHTS: Mike Pelfrey surrendered a pair of third-inning runs, on Pablo Sandoval’s RBI double and Nate Schierholtz’s run-scoring single, but wriggled free of other damage to limit the Giants to two runs in six innings. Pelfrey finished the first half at 5-8 with a 4.55 ERA.
Terry Collins said pregame that he believed in Pelfrey, but the manager allowed that he might have put too much pressure on the right-hander with the honor of naming him Opening Day starter.
“I might have done Mike an injustice, because I felt what he did last year, he deserved to be the Opening Day starter,” Collins said. “With that comes the tag of being the ace. Mike Pelfrey is a very, very good pitcher.”
NICK OF TIME: Nick Evans homered as a pinch-hitter off left-hander Jeremy Affeldt in the eighth to get the Mets on the scoreboard. It was Evans’ first major league homer since Sept. 14, 2010 off Pittsburgh’s Zach Duke.
New York Mets
K-ROD TRACKER: Francisco Rodriguez did not appear and remained at 34 games finished. He is on pace for 61 games finished, six more than the threshold for his contract to vest at $17.5 million for 2012.
WHAT’S NEXT: Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes fly with the Giants contingent to the All-Star Game. The remainder of the Mets get a 3½-day break before regrouping for a 6 p.m. workout Thursday at Citi Field. Collins plans to spend the break cleaning out a house he’s putting up for sale in Virginia. The Mets open the second half with R.A. Dickey opposing Philadelphia’s Vance Worley on Friday in Queens.