PHILADELPHIA - On Friday, Jason Bay and Jeff Francoeur each slammed into the outfield wall for a pair of spectacular catches that saved starter Jonathon Niese and nudged the Mets further in front of the Phillies in the National League East.
But in a similar situation Saturday, both Jose Reyes and Alex Cora were unable to do the same for Mike Pelfrey. Each momentarily held the ball in their glove for what would have been game-changing plays in the fourth inning.
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Instead, the Phillies rallied for six runs to end Pelfrey's scoreless streak at 27 innings, and Roy Halladay squashed any flicker of a comeback by hurling a complete-game shutout in the Mets' 10-0 loss at Citizens Bank Park.
"You've just got to throw this game out," Jeff Francoeur said. "We got whipped."
The Mets, winners of eight in a row, were going to lose again eventually and Pelfrey (4-1) was not going to finish the season undefeated. But the way this game unraveled in the fourth inning made it a little tougher to stomach for Pelfrey, who had matched Halladay until a couple of bloop hits led to his downfall.
Chase Utley led off the fourth with a soft line drive that Reyes appeared to corral with a lunging grab in shallow centerfield before it popped out.
"I should have made that play," Reyes said. "I need to make that play for Pelfrey. I got there and I had it in my glove."
After another single by Ryan Howard moved Utley to second, Jayson Werth cracked his bat on a pop-up that Cora chased with his back to the infield. At first, it appeared that Cora had made a brilliant over-the-shoulder catch, and no one would have been more surprised than Utley, who already had sprinted for third thinking it would drop.
But after clutching it momentarily, Cora fumbled the ball, allowing Utley to score and the Phillies to stay alive.
"I tipped it," Cora said. "To be honest, I saw it, ran to the spot and threw my glove at it. Once it gets to that area, diving is not an option. When I turned around and saw Utley running, I thought that's a double play . . ."
The Mets were not so fortunate. Pelfrey struck out Raul Ibañez for the first out before Juan Castro pulled a sinker down the leftfield line for a two-run double. Carlos Ruiz followed with a single to center and Angel Pagan gunned down Castro at the plate for the second out. But Halladay kept the inning alive by punching a single up the middle and Shane Victorino iced the game with a three-run homer into the rightfield seats that put the Phillies up 6-0.
"There were a couple plays that didn't go our way and that happens," Pelfrey said. ". . . I felt like it kind of snowballed after that. I felt that I never lost focus, but I made a mistake to Victorino and paid for it."
"They hit them in the glove, so you'd like to see them being caught," manager Jerry Manuel said. "But they're tough plays."
Pelfrey did not return after that decisive fourth inning. He ended April with a 0.69 ERA, the best in the majors. But after allowing six runs Saturday, his ERA jumped to 2.40. The scoreless-inning streak ended at 27.
"I know he feels good about the way he's throwing the ball, and we feel good about the way he's throwing the ball," Manuel said. "You're going to hit a bump in the road every now and then, regardless of who you are in this game, so he'll be fine."