Mets' season starting to get away after latest sweep drops them under. 500

Dodgers' Andre Ethier scores in the 12th inning.

Dodgers' Andre Ethier scores in the 12th inning. (July 22, 2012) (Credit: David Pokress )

A Mets season that once was bursting with such hope and promise has taken a wicked turn off course, and if Sunday's game is any indication, the depths of their summer swoon is yet to be determined.

For the first time all season, the standings show the Mets with more losses than wins, a reality the Mets face following a frustrating 8-3 loss in 12 innings to the Dodgers.

It wasn't just that Matt Treanor was batting .203 before coming through with the game-changing two-out, pinch-hit single off reliever Ramon Ramirez in the 12th. That hit snapped the tie at 3 and opened the floodgates as the Dodgers scored five runs.

What was far more irritating to the Mets (47-48) was the runners they left on base (14), their inability to do much with men in scoring position (4-for-19) and their failure to capitalize on a big inning whenever one presented itself.

"It's very disappointing," manager Terry Collins said after his team lost its third straight game and ninth in its last 10. "Certainly we're not happy the way things have gone the last 10 days so we need to buckle down, get after it and get back over it."

The Mets are 1-8 since the All-Star break. The Braves also swept them during that span.

As the first-place Nationals arrive at Citi Field Monday night for the start of a three-game set, this is how desperate the Mets are for something positive to happen: It's been 30 innings since they've had a lead.

"I don't think we're playing as poorly as the record indicates," David Wright said, "but this is kind of when we have to get things turned around."

The Mets announced after the game they will turn to highly touted prospect Matt Harvey to make Thursday's start in Arizona, filling the void that was left when Johan Santana went on the disabled list. Despite the final score, however, pitching wasn't the Mets' problem.

Jon Niese pitched adequately for seven innings, allowing three runs, including a two-run homer to former Yankee Juan Rivera in the fourth inning. But the Mets failed to give him or a steady stream of relievers much to work with. "Just couldn't put anything together for that big inning," Wright said.

The Mets fought back from a run down to tie it at 3 in the ninth. Ruben Tejada led off with a single, advanced to second on a sacrifice, moved to third on a single by Wright and scored when first baseman James Loney bobbled a dribbler by Ike Davis. He recovered to throw out Davis, but television replays indicated first-base umpire Mike DiMuro missed the call and that Davis should have been safe.

Making matters worse, Lucas Duda failed to drive in Wright from second, grounding out to end the inning. An inning later, the Mets had runners on first and second with none out, but didn't score. Mike Nickeas failed to sacrifice the runners over and Tejada grounded into an inning-ending double play.

"I don't think we're pressing," Collins said. "We're unable to come up with the big play right now, the big inning that we need to get through it all."

In the 12th, the Mets were again victimized by DiMuro. He said Tony Gwynn Jr. beat out a sacrifice bunt attempt but replays showed he was out. That proved to be a critical missed call when Treanor delivered.

This isn't the first time DiMuro has had a rough game in New York. Last month at Yankee Stadium, DiMuro was the umpire who called Dewayne Wise's "catch" an out, when it was clear the leftfielder dropped the ball in the stands.

"We're sitting here with a lot of opportunities to win this game," Collins said. "That was a call we needed to have made, but I'm not going to blame the umpires for losing this baseball game. We had a chance to win this before then."

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