SAN FRANCISCO - On one side of the field, the best team in baseball took advantage of every opening. It came through in the clutch, anointed a new hero each day and squashed rallies before they could begin.
On the other stood the Mets, a team in a tailspin.
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In the course of three days, there could be no mistaking one for the other, especially after the Giants completed a sweep with a 6-4 win Sunday. The juxtaposition confirmed every shortcoming facing the Mets, who enter a much-needed day off on a six-game losing streak.
"You saw what they did," Terry Collins said. "They kept adding on a run when they needed it, got big hits when they needed it, and we haven't been able to do that."
Curtis Granderson homered twice, going 3-for-4 with a double and three RBIs. He had the 15th multihomer game of his career and his first since Oct. 3, 2012, while with the Yankees. His first-inning blast ended a homerless stretch of 64 at-bats.
But his performance alone wasn't enough to prevent the Mets from being swept for the second straight series. After losing three each to the lowly Cubs and the surging Giants, the Mets wrapped up a grueling stretch of 20 games in 20 days.
"We need it right now," Collins said of the day off. "We're tired, we're beat up a little bit. It would be good to take a day."
Zack Wheeler allowed four runs in 3 2/3 innings, turning in his shortest start of the season.
Plagued by command issues to begin the year, Wheeler had succeeded in reversing the trend of late, lasting at least six innings in each of his previous three outings. He had allowed three earned runs, walked three and struck out 23 in 19 2/3 innings.
The string of starts represented a clear step forward for former Giants prospect Wheeler, 24, who has encountered a steep learning curve in his first full season in the big leagues. But the Giants thwarted that progress, rallying even after Granderson's two-run shot in the first gave the Mets a 2-0 lead.
Said Wheeler: "That's definitely not the start that the team needed out of me."
Gregor Blanco doubled home two of the three runs the Giants scored in the second. They added another against Wheeler in the third before chasing him in the fourth.
The Mets cut the deficit to one run in the sixth and in the eighth. Each time, the Giants responded with a run of their own. By the end, the Mets found themselves in a familiar predicament, playing just well enough to lose a close game.
The loss wrapped up a road trip that began with so much promise, only to end with bitterness. The Mets won four of five against the Phillies, though three straight extra-inning contests compromised their bullpen.
Perhaps the only consolation the Mets can take is that despite all their woes, they are only five games behind the NL East-leading Braves, Nationals and Marlins.
David Wright, who didn't start for the first time all season and struck out as a pinch hitter in the seventh, said: "We just need to play better. That's the bottom line. Nobody's happy."
Notes & quotes: Reliever Gonzalez Germen (virus) is nearing a return from the disabled list . . . Daisuke Matsuzaka starts Tuesday against the Brewers.