Jon Rauch hovers at nearly 7 feet tall, so he shouldn't have any problem looking down at anybody and peering right into their eyes.
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But the big reliever couldn't even lay an eyelash on Johan Santana Wednesday night, not after blowing a potential victory for the Mets' ace. Santana pitched well, walking off to a nice ovation with a one-run lead, two outs and a runner on second in the seventh. Rauch coughed it up, though, yielding a single, double and single to start the eighth, and the Reds took the lead for good on pinch hitter Jay Bruce's sacrifice fly off Tim Byrdak, sending the Mets to a 6-3 loss at Citi Field.
The bullpen was charged with four runs in the eighth inning, the final salvo coming on Todd Frazier's two-run homer to centerfield -- his second shot of the game -- off D.J. Carrasco. The late-game blowup led to the Mets losing for the third time in four games and Santana collecting his fifth no-decision of the season, tying him for the most in the National League.
"Shoot, I think I've [messed up for him] twice at least this year," Rauch said. "I've blown two of his games. So it's really tough. I can't even look the guy in the eye right now . . . My inning cost the team the win, so yeah, I'm thinking about it."
At least Rauch wasn't designated for assignment after the game, as was Carrasco. The Mets called up pitcher Robert Carson from Triple-A Binghamton to take Carrasco's roster spot, hoping to shake up a bullpen that has nine blown saves.
"It's pretty self-explanatory," Carrasco said. "I think I would've done the same thing if I was the GM. I haven't been able to produce and the bullpen is struggling right now and you need to get guys that are consistent . . . So I can't blame him."
Santana gave up two runs and six hits in 61/3 innings, striking out five and walking two. It seems he's always on the short end of these kinds of games since he arrived in Flushing.
"I'm just trying to do my job," Santana said. "It's tough. Once I do my job and I'm out of the game, I just hope that the guys can finish it. But it's out of my control. There's not much I can do but just watch and hope that we get it done. That wasn't the case tonight.''
Things were looking good for the Mets before the bullpen's implosion. They executed a suicide squeeze for the second time in three games, which helped them build a 3-1 lead in the sixth.
Overall, they mustered eight hits, but left eight men on base, giving the Reds the opportunity for their comeback.
"We've got to add on," manager Terry Collins said. "We are living, sitting there with two runs, three runs and four runs, if we can add on some runs, I think it would ease up and take a little heat off the bullpen."
A bullpen that's firmly aware its has to start getting better results.
"Hopefully, it will end," Rauch said. "We are not firing on all cylinders right now. It's one of those things where when one guy is battling and trying to get the job done, the other guys need to help pick him up. Today, I just didn't do my job. Just flat-out didn't do my job.
"You can't have that kind of performance."
Santana was appreciative of Rauch essentially beating himself up, but also did his best to take it all in stride and keep things in perspective.
"This is a long season, man," Santana said. "This is not about one game or two games. We still have a long way to go. You just have to keep your chin up and come back the next time. I'm sure he'll have the attitude to come out tomorrow and help us out. It's not just about me. We still have a long season to go."
Notes & quotes. Collins said of Jenrry Mejia, who's working his way back in the minors after undergoing Tommy John surgery a year ago: "I think down the road, you'll probably see Jenrry Mejia somehow get in that bullpen." . . . Collins said reliever Pedro Beato (shoulder) is throwing well and could be close to participating in an extended spring training game.