The signs were all there for a letdown.
David Wright appears headed for the disabled list Tuesday with a stress fracture in his back and the Mets had returned to Citi Field, where they were 8-11. Plus, they were facing nemesis Josh Johnson.
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So they had everything in place for one of their trademark excruciating losses, and yes, they did come up painfully short -- thanks to a relief pitcher driving in the go-ahead run, of all things.
Burke Badenhop, who was 1-for-23 lifetime, singled off Ryota Igarashi with two outs in the top of the 11th, driving in Mike Stanton to hand the Mets a 2-1 loss Monday night in front of a smattering of fans.
"Uncomfortable,'' manager Terry Collins described a game in which an outstanding start by Mike Pelfrey was wasted. "From start to finish. Pelf pitched good, the bullpen came in, we had runners on base, we got Josh when he wasn't sharp. We had a lot of things to our advantage and we couldn't capitalize on them."
Including one final gasp to tie it after one of their pitchers -- starter Jonathon Niese -- laced a pinch-hit, two-out triple to centerfield in the Mets' half of the 11th.
"Three-two, I figured I was getting a fastball, and I just swung and put the bat on the ball,'' Niese said. "As far as going for three, I really wasn't thinking. When I was on second, I saw the ball still on the ground at the wall, so I just tried for it.''
He made it easily, but Leo Nuñez struck out Jose Reyes swinging to end the 3:31 game, sending the Mets to only their second loss in their last six games.
"I just knew Jose was going to get a hit, he's going to get something,'' Collins said. "I said, 'Oh my God, if he hits a double, we may win this game.' So if he was getting on, he was going. I can tell you that.''
A rain delay of an hour and 20 minutes did little to ignite either offense on this misty, miserable night.
The Mets touched Johnson for a run and seven hits before he exited in the sixth with a right forearm contusion, likely suffered on Carlos Beltran's comebacker an inning earlier. But they were only 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position, barely better than the Marlins' 1-for-11. Each team left 12 runners on base.
The Mets handed Pelfrey a 1-0 lead in the fourth but the Marlins tied it in the seventh. Stanton crushed a 2-and-1 fastball that Pelfrey left in the heart of the plate, rocketing one past the Big Apple in centerfield that nearly made it all the way to the hitter's eye. His bomb traveled roughly 440 feet, ending the Mets' chances of earning their second win against the Marlins' ace.
Pelfrey left after seven, yielding only one run and six hits in his 92-pitch outing.
Johnson was 4-0 with a 3.76 ERA in his four matchups against Pelfrey, and the Mets finally got to him in the fourth. With Daniel Murphy on second after a single and a wild pitch, Justin Turner doubled into the left-centerfield gap, chasing Murphy home for a 1-0 lead.
Pelfrey said he might've coughed up the lead earlier had it not been for some solid plays in the field behind him.
Willie Harris, starting at third for Wright, saved a run in the fourth with a sparkling diving play. With men on first and second and two outs, John Buck lined a screamer in Harris' direction, but he sprawled to his left to rob him.
In the fifth, with Omar Infante on second, Carlos Beltran turned in a spectacular grab to start a 9-9-6 double play.
"I don't feel as good as my line was,'' Pelfrey said. "I thought I made a lot of mistakes tonight over the middle of the plate and guys made some good plays behind me and I was able to get away with some mistakes. Obviously, the mistake in the seventh inning, I didn't get away with that. He hit that a long ways, and it's better that way than a little wall-scraper. So you tip your cap, you know you make a mistake, and he did what he was supposed to do.''
Unfortunately, though, the same couldn't be said for a Mets team looking for a silver lining on what was an otherwise dreary day all-around.
"A long day, weird day,'' Jason Bay said. "Things were going well for us, we come off that road trip, took two out of three against the Astros and things were going well. And just when you think you've got some momentum and things are starting to pick up a little bit, you go out there and you have a chance to beat arguably one of the best pitchers in the game and you kind of get it turned around there. It stinks, but baseball is every day. So we'll get them tomorrow, weather permitting.''
Notes & quotes: Ike Davis is walking with a slight limp, and the plan is for him to continue his rehab in Florida. He was scheduled to fly there Monday night and head to the team's complex in Port St. Lucie Tuesday. After an MRI and an examination by team physician Struan Coleman, his injury was described as a left ankle sprain and bone bruise.
General manager Sandy Alderson said Jenrry Mejia's Tommy John surgery Monday "went extremely well.'' . . . Chris Young had surgery on his right shoulder to repair a tear in his anterior capsule Monday. There was fraying in his rotator cuff, but Alderson said he was told that surgery went well . . . Mets minor-league pitcher Edgar Ramirez was suspended 50 games after a positive test for Methylhexaneamine, the commissioner's office said.