- Adam Rubin, ESPN Staff Writer
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WHAT IT MEANS: Maybe that two-year, $12 million deal Frank Francisco received this offseason could have been better spent elsewhere.
New York Mets
For the second time in the series, Francisco botched a save chance as the Mets suffered another gut-wrenching defeat. This time it came Sunday, in an 8-4 loss in the rubber game against the Miami Marlins.
Asked to protect a 4-2 lead after a dramatic top of the ninth that included Justin Turner’s two-out, full-count, two-run double with the bases loaded, Francisco allowed all three batters he faced to reach, including one run to score.
And Francisco was not done even after being pulled for Manny Acosta.
Rather than head directly to the dugout, Francisco headed toward the plate, where he jawed with umpire Todd Tichenor. Even though Francisco was being pulled from the game, Tichenor made it doubly official by ejecting him. Terry Collins had to intercede so things did not get out of hand.
It was another miserable day all around for the bullpen.
Acosta surrendered a game-tying sacrifice fly to Jose Reyes, then eventually loaded the bases with two out by plunking Austin Kearns. Giancarlo Stanton ended it with a grand slam.
Earlier, Jon Niese tossed six scoreless innings, then got pulled at 99 pitches with the Mets leading 2-0, two out and two runners in scoring position in the top of the seventh. Ike Davis, who had been scratched because of the flu, grounded out back to Carlos Zambrano as a pinch hitter as the threat went for naught.
Then the bullpen immediately let the Mets down.
Two batters into the bottom half of the inning, Ramon Ramirez had surrendered a leadoff triple to Emilio Bonifacio and two-run homer to John Buck as the Marlins evened the score at 2.
New York Mets
TURNER CLASSIC: Turner stood to be the hero before the bottom-of-the-ninth meltdown.
Turner had walked against Heath Bell with the bases loaded in New York to complete a 13-pitch faceoff and force in a tying run. This time, Turner fouled off one full-count offering with the bases loaded and two out in the ninth and the score tied at 2. Turner, pinch hitting, sent the next pitch into right field for a two-run double.
Daniel Murphy began the ninth-inning drama with a one-out double. Ronny Cedeno followed with a walk. Both advanced on Jordany Valdespin’s groundout. The Marlins then chose to intentionally walk Mike Baxter with first base open and have Bell go up against the righty-hitting Turner.
WRIGHT WATCH: David Wright went 1-for-3 with a walk, dipping his average to .400. Wright’s fourth-inning single advanced Kirk Nieuwenhuis to second base. Both moved ahead a base on a passed ball. They then scored the game’s opening runs on Lucas Duda’s RBI groundout and Murphy’s RBI single.
Wright went 13-for-27 on the six-game road trip.
OFF TRACK: Andres Torres’ streak of reaching base in every game in which he has appeared ended Sunday at 12. Torres went 0-for-5 with two strikeouts.
WHAT’S NEXT: After a 4-2 road trip to Philly and Miami, the Mets return to Citi Field to open two-game series with the Milwaukee Brewers and then the Cincinnati Reds. Miguel Batista (0-1, 5.89 ERA) makes his second start in Mike Pelfrey’s former rotation spot Monday, opposite Brewers right-hander Yovani Gallardo (2-3, 5.35).