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NEW YORK -- Jose Reyes, Mike Pelfrey and the New York Mets are limping into the All-Star break.
Pelfrey was knocked out in the fifth inning and Reyes was forced to depart two innings later with continued right oblique issues as the Mets dropped five games behind the division-leading Atlanta Braves with a 4-0 loss Saturday in their National League East showdown.
The Mets will try to salvage the final game before the All-Star break when Johan Santana opposes Derek Lowe on Sunday at Citi Field. Entering the series finale, the Mets are 1-4 on their challenging homestand against a pair of division leaders -- the Cincinnati Reds and Braves.
There will be no Reyes appearance in the series finale. The Mets, who bucked the conservative approach to treating injuries they had adopted as their mantra this year, blew it with Reyes by having him play through discomfort.
|Mike Pelfrey exited in the fifth inning for the third straight start.|
Now, the best-case scenario is Reyes being back in the lineup Thursday in San Francisco when play resumes.
"It's not good," David Wright said about the weekend showing against the Braves through two games. "They pitched better than us today. They hit better than us today. They played better defense. They came out and just beat us in every area of the game today. It's something that we're going to have to rebound [from] and take this game tomorrow going into the break, because we're not playing very good baseball right now in any area."
Said Pelfrey: "It would have been nice to get a sweep, or even win the series and head in strong to the break. That hasn't happened."
Pelfrey's pitch count quickly soared -- 46 through two innings, 62 through three -- yet he managed to keep the Braves off the scoreboard for a while. He even escaped a bases-loaded, no-out predicament in the fourth by retiring Martin Prado on a double-play comebacker and Melky Cabrera on a groundout to first baseman Ike Davis.
Pelfrey -- who has been battling blisters, though he said it's a non-issue -- never did record an out in the fifth. He was knocked out in that frame for a third straight start.
Atlanta opened the fifth with five straight singles, prompting manager Jerry Manuel to pull Pelfrey with the bases loaded, none out and the Mets trailing 2-0. Elmer Dessens entered and coaxed Yunel Escobar into a double play, but the Braves nonetheless scored another run on the grounder. Opposing pitcher Tim Hudson then delivered an RBI double off Dessens inside the right-field line, giving Atlanta a 4-0 lead and closing the book on Pelfrey.
The 12 hits allowed by Pelfrey matched his career high, which he established only two starts ago, when the Florida Marlins knocked him out with two out in the fifth inning in San Juan. It's the first time in franchise history a starting pitcher had allowed 12 or more hits without completing five innings twice in a season.
Pelfrey, who was snubbed from the All-Star Game, has limped to the break after a 9-1 start. In his last five outings, he is 1-3 with a 7.52 ERA.
"I just haven't been very good," Pelfrey said. "The name of the game is executing pitches. I think that starts with getting ahead, which I have done a terrible job of doing. If you leave -- I don't know -- 15 baserunners in four innings, it's going to come back and bite you in the butt. That's way too many baserunners. I obviously ended up paying for it.
"My command has been terrible. I think you can't continue at this level to fall behind hitters and be successful. I've continued to do that. The last six starts I think I've had one good one. It's definitely not the way I wanted to finish the first half."
Pelfrey, at least, had a gallows sense of humor. Asked if the break and a retreat to his home in Wichita, Kan., come at a good time, Pelfrey replied: "It could have come a couple of starts earlier."
Adam Rubin covers the Mets for ESPNNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.
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