Mets erase early deficit, then lose in 9th

Johan Santana delivers a pitch. (May 11, 2012)

Johan Santana delivers a pitch. (May 11, 2012) Photo Credit: AP

advertisement | advertise on newsday

MIAMI -- The Mets were in perfect position to win this game. They were down three runs in the first inning, and lately, down has become their favorite position.

True to form, they came back from that three-run deficit in the first, they went ahead by two in the eighth and again flexed that familiar resilient streak they seem to have inherited from their ace pitcher.

In the end, though, it was the Mets' spirits that were down. They were beaten at their own last-gasp dramatics and lost, 6-5, to the Marlins on Friday night in the bottom of the ninth.

After Greg Dobbs finished it with a two-out single, capping a rally that featured a double by Giancarlo Stanton and tying single by Emilio Bonifacio against closer Frank Francisco, after the Marlins had scored an unearned run in the eighth with the help of Ike Davis' error, it seemed odd to the Mets. They usually are the ones who make the big pitches and big plays, having won a major league-leading 11 games after trailing.

"We're not the only team that plays hard," Terry Collins said.

Said Francisco: "That's baseball. That's going to happen. Hopefully, it's the last time. But I can't put that in my mind because I know how baseball is."

advertisement | advertise on newsday

It was the 8,000th game in Mets history and their first at the new Marlins Park, which had the roof closed. Despite those distinctions, it followed a familiar script. The Mets had swept a three-game series in Philadelphia, scoring the winning run in the seventh inning or later each time. They seem to have picked a bounce-back ability from Johan Santana, who has been surprising this season with his quick and strong comeback from surgery.

"Santana is the reason why I got fired," Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said, recalling the days when he was White Sox manager and Santana was the Twins' ace. "Santana is the best lefty I've ever seen."

The lefty was solid after allowing three in the first -- featuring a triple by Jose Reyes and two-run homer by Austin Kearns.

The Mets did their part by coming all the way back to go up 5-3 in the eighth on doubles by David Wright (his third hit of the game) and pinch hitters Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Mike Baxter.

Usually, the story pretty much ends there. Not this time. The Marlins made it 5-4 in the eighth, starting with a soft grounder to first by Reyes. Davis, in his haste to beat a fast runner to the bag, let it skip off his wrist, and Omar Infante followed with a double to right, driving in Reyes.

Davis said of the grounder: "I ran in harder than usual to catch it, then I slowed down because the ball was like a changeup. I just happened to misplay it. I should have just got in front of it and knocked it down. The error was definitely a momentum-swinger."

Stanton's leadoff double in the ninth was a momentum-grabber. Francisco (1-2) thought he had made a good pitch, but the ball kept carrying. Stanton advanced on a fly to deep center and came home on Bonifacio's single to right. Bonifacio stole second, stayed there when John Buck struck out and came home on Dobbs' soft liner to right. Dobbs said it was his first walk-off hit in seven years.

The Mets, for a change, walked off stunned and a little sad. "I feel bad because we lost, but I left everything I had out there for my team," Francisco said. "I fight. I was fighting out there with everything I have."

For a change, the Mets did not have enough down the stretch.

"Guys played hard and came back in the game. I was very, very impressed by the way they came back against [Mark] Buehrle," Collins said, referring to the Marlins' starter. "It was one of those nights when we didn't pitch well late in the game, which we've been doing very well lately."

Subscribe to Newsday’s sports newsletter for stories, photos and videos about your favorite New York teams plus national sports news and events.

Comments now uses Facebook for our comment boards. Please read our guidelines and connect your Facebook account to comment.

You also may be interested in: