Matt Harvey good, but Mets' defense isn't

Mets pitcher Matt Harvey delivers during the first Mets pitcher Matt Harvey delivers during the first inning of a game against the San Francisco Giants. (July 31, 2012) Photo Credit: AP

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Matt Harvey's second big-league start was almost as good as his first. With a little help from his Mets teammates, it could have even been better.

Harvey was charged with three runs (two earned) in six innings against the Giants Tuesday night in the Mets' 4-1 defeat. Harvey (1-1) exited the game with the Mets trailing 3-1 and took his first career loss.

Two of the runs Harvey allowed needn't have scored at all if the Mets had played better defense behind him.

The Mets were leading 1-0 in the bottom of the second inning thanks to Justin Turner's RBI double off Tim Lincecum in the top of the inning.

Buster Posey hit a line drive to centerfield that Jordany Valdespin misjudged and then trapped. It was scored a single. Valdespin started in center because Andres Torres is out with an injured thumb.

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Marco Scutaro followed with a double down the third-base line and Brandon Belt walked to load the bases. Harvey got Justin Christian to ground one in front of the mound that he scooped home for the first out.

Brandon Crawford followed with a potential 4-6-3 double-play ball that would have ended the inning without the Giants scoring. But Ruben Tejada air-mailed the relay throw to first for an error as two runs scored to put Harvey in a 2-1 hole.

Harvey retired 10 of the next 11 batters before Ryan Theriot led off the sixth with a double to the left-centerfield wall. Melky Cabrera reached on a bunt single and Posey walked to again load the bases with none out.

Scutaro grounded into a 6-4-3 double play as the Giants' third run scored. Harvey struck out Belt looking at a 95-mile per hour fastball on what turned out to be his 91st and final pitch.

Manager Terry Collins was impressed with Harvey's ability to wiggle out of jams.

"He should have wiggled out of one in the second, too," Collins said. "The double-play ball, we should have turned over. We had one of those innings. He pitched very well."

Harvey was a little tougher on himself.

"I don't like to lose," he said. "So obviously I'm not happy about it. In my eyes, if we scored one run, I've done my part if I put up zeros. But I didn't do that tonight. I didn't do my job."

But at least Harvey liked the atmosphere at AT&T Park.

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"This place is fun to play," Harvey said. "Electric ballpark. It's nice being on the mound and being locked in and not hearing anything, but Rob Johnson came up to me after and he goes, 'You see what I mean, how electric this place is.' I didn't really notice it while I was on the mound, but when I got out it's a fun place to play."

David Wright, who was rested in favor of Turner, pinch hit for Harvey with two outs and the bases loaded in the seventh. He struck out looking against Lincecum.

Jason Bay, who did not start after injuring his left calf on Monday, pinch hit in the ninth and grounded out to end the game.

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In his first start Thursday at Arizona, Harvey pitched 52/3 scoreless innings with 11 strikeouts. Tuesday night he allowed four hits, walked three and struck out seven.

"I thought his command was better in the first game," Collins said. "But the way he can still go get it, he did it again tonight. When he needed to add on a little bit, he went and got it. Pitched in and out. I thought he pitched inside very well. I was very impressed. Again, two very, very good outings."

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