From sweep to mop-up: Pen unravels as Mets fall to Phillies

Ramon Ramirez of the New York Mets delivers

Ramon Ramirez of the New York Mets delivers a pitch against the Philadelphia Phillies. (April 15, 2012) (Credit: Getty Images)

PHILADELPHIA -- For 24 innings, nearly everything went right for the Mets this weekend at Citizens Bank Park. From beating Cliff Lee Friday night to David Wright's triumphant Saturday return, it was a rare feel-good visit, one that had the Mets poised for their first three-game Philly sweep in six years.

That euphoria continued Sunday when Ike Davis launched his first home run in 11 months, a two-run shot off Cole Hamels in the first inning. Another gear-grinding performance by Mike Pelfrey got the Mets through the sixth with a lead, but this time the bullpen imploded.

Ramon Ramirez allowed three hits and two runs in the seventh inning as the Mets ultimately buckled to the Phillies, 8-2. A pair of one-out singles, followed by a wild pitch, set up the winning rally. Former Met Ty Wigginton delivered a sacrifice fly and Laynce Nix followed with an RBI double that Scott Hairston narrowly missed with a leaping attempt near the leftfield foul pole.

An inning later, the Phillies pulled away with five runs, four unearned, thanks to a throwing error by Ruben Tejada.

The Mets still left Philadelphia with their first series win at Citizens Bank Park since Sept. 24-26, 2010, an impressive accomplishment considering they improved to just 2-7-1 in their last 10 series here.

"We're disappointed, but you have to keep that in perspective," said Pelfrey, who left with a 2-1 lead after six. "We came in here and played great. Overall, it was a positive weekend."

Entering Sunday, the Mets' bullpen was fifth in the majors with a 2.13 ERA, allowing six earned runs in 25 1/3 innings. So much for that. Ramirez, Manny Acosta and Miguel Batista combined to give up seven runs in two innings, but only three of those were earned.

The turning point came in the seventh after one-out singles by Jimmy Rollins and Hunter Pence. With Wigginton at the plate, Ramirez flung a first-pitch slider that skipped away from Mike Nickeas for a wild pitch that moved both runners up. That set up Wigginton's sacrifice fly and Nix's RBI double. That, along with Tejada's miscue, closed the door.

"When you're ahead 2-1 late in the game, you want to finish it off," Terry Collins said. "I thought we were set up pretty good for it and we didn't finish it like we should have."

Pelfrey felt the same way about his own outing in the sense that he burned too many pitches early and had to leave too soon. He surrendered eight hits -- all singles -- and only one run but was pulled after throwing 99 pitches. The Phillies scored their lone run off Pelfrey on three straight singles to open the first.

"I always tell myself that if I get through the first inning, it's going to be a good day," he said. "Obviously, the first three guys got on and I said, oh, man, I've got to limit this damage."

Pelfrey did, leaving the bases loaded that inning. Despite a lack of fastball command, he was pleased with his curveball and splitter, which helped him get through some tight spots.

"I think my goal going into games is at least get through seven innings," Pelfrey said. "This is not really acceptable. I think as we continue to go, hopefully, I can get through a whole game with 110 pitches instead of through the sixth."

For Citizens Bank Park, where Pelfrey had been 2-3 with an 8.60 ERA, it was a vast improvement. Heckled during his bullpen warm-up last time, Pelfrey said the traveling Mets fans were nicer this time.

"They looked at my jersey and didn't see 34, so maybe they didn't know who I was," he said. "The 42 [for Jackie Robinson Day] threw them off."

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