WHAT IT MEANS: Scott Hairston continued to dominate left-handed pitching, Chris Young took a scoreless effort into the seventh inning and the Mets appeared poised to match a season high by moving eight games over .500, all while putting another nail in the Phillies’ coffin.
Then things quickly unraveled in what became a 9-2 loss Wednesday afternoon as Sandy Alderson's mandate to acquire bullpen help before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline again was evident.
New York Mets
Philadelphia snapped a six-game losing streak and made Cliff Lee a winner for the first time in 14 starts this season. The Mets (44-38) dropped 4½ games behind the victorious Washington Nationals.
Juan Pierre singled, Chase Utley delivered a two-run homer into the right-field corner and Carlos Ruiz also went deep as the Phillies grabbed a 3-2 lead before Young recorded an out in the seventh.
Opponents are now hitting .176 against Young in their first plate appearance of a game against him, .281 in the second PA and .368 the third time through the order. (Chris Capuano struggled last year the third time through the order as well. And Capuano now is having resounding success with the Dodgers. So perhaps it simply means more time is needed post-surgery to get back to full capability. Young underwent surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule in his pitching shoulder on May 16, 2011.)
Young had retired the first 10 Phillies he faced until Pierre singled in the fourth.
The Phillies added three more runs in the eighth against a trio of Mets relievers.
Tim Byrdak surrendered a double to Jimmy Rollins that scored a runner inherited from Miguel Batista. Jeremy Hefner eventually entered with two runners on base and surrendered two-out RBI singles to Carlos Ruiz and Hunter Pence, the latter of which Ruben Tejada struggled to field at shortstop. It was the first time in Hefner’s major league career he had worked with inherited runners. He had pitched exclusively as a starter in the minors since 2009 as well.
Hefner allowed another three runs in the ninth, capped by a two-run homer from Ty Wigginton.
The Mets’ bullpen ERA rose to 5.11, worst in the majors.
New York Mets
HAIR-RAISING: Hairston is now batting .306 (30-for-98) with eight homers against left-handed pitching this season. The long ball total is tied with Ryan Braun for the most in the National League against southpaws this season. Scouts from two different American League clubs said they would love to acquire Hairston because of the combination of production and his modest $1.1 million salary, although the Mets clearly will not be sellers, barring an epic slide before the trade deadline.
Hairston’s solo homer in the fourth against Lee opened the scoring. The Mets pushed the lead to 2-0 an inning later when Tejada, Daniel Murphy and David Wright consecutively produced two-out singles.
WHAT’S NEXT: R.A. Dickey (12-1, 2.15 ERA) makes his final first-half start when he opposes left-hander Cole Hamels (10-4, 3.08) in the 7:10 p.m. series finale Thursday.