The beleaguered closer coughed up his third consecutive save chance, this time wasting a splendid pitching performance by Johan Santana and allowing the Arizona Diamondbacks to rally past New York 5-4 in 10 innings Thursday.
Mets closer Billy Wagner had been pretty reliable -- until the last three games. He blew his third straight save Thursday. Here's a look at his season:
1st 23 games
Last 3 games
"It's frustrating," Wagner said. "I stink right now."Justin Upton doubled leading off the 10th against Aaron Heilman (0-3) and scored on Miguel Montero's sacrifice fly to help the Diamondbacks take two of three in the series.Third baseman Augie Ojeda and shortstop Stephen Drew made diving plays in the bottom of the ninth to keep the score tied."We showed some tenacity all three games here, which was big for me," Arizona manager Bob Melvin said. "We haven't really showed a propensity to come back much this year in the fashion that we did last year."After Santana struck out 10 in seven shutout innings, Wagner squandered a two-run lead in the ninth and screamed at himself several times while walking back to the dugout.The left-hander also gave up a go-ahead homer to San Diego pinch-hitter Tony Clark in Sunday's 8-6 loss and a tying, three-run shot to Mark Reynolds on Wednesday night. The Mets recovered to win that one on Carlos Beltran's 13th-inning homer, ending a five-game skid."It's really not the team right now -- it's all on me," Wagner said. "I'm not getting the job done."Mets manager Willie Randolph thought Wagner's stuff looked typical Thursday, but the velocity on his fastball was down. The last time the All-Star reliever blew three save chances in a row was May 2000 when he squandered five straight for Houston.Santana tossed three-hit ball, outpitching Arizona's Dan Haren in a marquee matchup. But it was the third time in Santana's 14 starts that his bullpen cost him a win, including two blown saves by Wagner.The two-time Cy Young Award winner also has lost twice when allowing only one earned run."I felt good. I've been doing my job. I was hitting the corners and using all my pitches," Santana said. "But at the end, the bottom line is, we didn't win. When you're on the bench, there's not much you can do about it."Brandon Lyon (2-1) worked two scoreless innings and the NL West leaders won for the sixth time in 20 road games. The last time they captured a series away from home was when they took two of three at San Diego from April 25-27."Wagner's really good," Arizona's Chris Young said. "We stayed locked in and tried to get a pitch to hit and took advantage."Ramon Castro homered and David Wright hit an RBI double for the Mets. Fernando Tatis had a two-run single, but New York wasted excellent opportunities to extend its 4-0 cushion in the seventh and a two-run lead in the eighth."It's not working for us. We have to play better," Santana said. "The thing is, we can't get everything together."The Mets fell three games below .500, matching their low-water mark for the season."We're in one of those bad ruts where the baseball gods are not good to you," Randolph said. "We've got to find a way."Reynolds' two-run triple off Joe Smith cut it to 4-2 in the eighth.Wagner was ahead 1-2 on Montero in the ninth before issuing a leadoff walk. Drew reached on a pinch-hit infield single and Young's RBI double cut it to 4-3.Ojeda walked, loading the bases, and Randolph huddled with his players on the mound. Orlando Hudson grounded into a force play at the plate and Castro could have had a double play at third, but he only looked toward first before deciding to hang onto the ball."I was going to throw to first. It's kind of hard to turn and throw to third," Castro said.Conor Jackson then hit a high chopper to shortstop and beat the attempted double-play relay to first, tying it at 4.Jose Reyes was on second in the bottom of the ninth when Ojeda made a backhand stab of Wright's sharp grounder and fired to first for the out.With the bases loaded and two outs, Drew hit the dirt for a backhand stop of Damion Easley's grounder and tossed to second, where Hudson barely beat Carlos Delgado to the bag."We haven't played great defense this year, but in the second half of the game it was the reason we won the game," Melvin said.
An MRI exam on oft-injured Mets LF Moises Alou showed he re-aggravated his strained left calf. He is day to day, though Alou said earlier he thinks "the DL is a possibility -- again." Alou just came off the disabled list Tuesday, but his calf stiffened up in his first game back. "I don't feel very good," he said. ... It was Wagner's fifth blown save in 18 chances this year. ... Ojeda started at SS, giving Drew a rest. ... Wright is the only major leaguer to play every inning this season.