PHILADELPHIA -- The most interesting and memorable play in the Mets' 3-2 loss to the Phillies Thursday at Citizens Bank Park had little to do with the outcome but made both managers angry.
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The Mets, whose winning streak was snapped at four games, fell to fourth place in the NL East, one game behind the Phillies. But they still won their second series in a row and are feeling better about themselves than they have in a while.
The Phillies? They're facing a bit of turmoil. And it all started with a harmless-looking pop-up off the bat of Jimmy Rollins in the sixth inning.
Rollins did not run hard as the ball made its way up the chute between home plate and the mound. Four Mets converged on the ball -- David Wright, Ike Davis, Josh Thole and Niese -- but no one took charge.
At the last moment, Niese tried to make a Willie Mays-style basket catch. The ball bounced off his glove for an error as Rollins, who had his head down, reached first -- but only first.
Mets manager Terry Collins was annoyed that the ball wasn't caught. Davis and Wright might have been gun-shy because of last year's incident on a similar play when Wright ran into Davis, causing an ankle injury that ended Davis' season.
"That's got to be Ike's or David's ball," Collins said. "It's got to be the catcher's ball. It's got to be somebody's ball. The ball's got to be caught."
Kendrick was on third after a double and a passed ball. Rollins then stole second, but he got caught off the bag seconds later when Kevin Frandsen hit a one-out grounder to second. Kendrick held his base, so Rollins was an easy out.
The Phillies did not score in the inning and manager Charlie Manuel removed the shortstop from the game after berating him in the dugout. Manuel had warned Rollins before about not hustling.
"I guess I handle it the way I want to handle it," Manuel said. "That's the way I look at it. Can I handle it? I don't know. We'll see. I just got to a place where it's a reflection on myself. It's a reflection on our team. It reflects on our organization . . . My frustration grows any time I see anybody not hustle. It grows if I see the other team not hustle."
Rollins, while leaving the Phillies' clubhouse, said: "He already told you what happened. There you go."
Earlier, the Mets looked as though they were going to finish the season 8-1 in Philadelphia. They took a 2-0 lead with home runs in each of the first two innings.
Mike Baxter led off the game with his second homer of the season, both in this series. The drive to right was his first career leadoff homer. Scott Hairston made it 2-0 with a blast to left in the second inning. It was his 15th of the season and sixth against the Phillies.
But that was all the Mets got against Kendrick (8-9), who allowed seven hits and no walks in 72/3 innings, striking out six.
The Phillies made it 2-1 in the third on Rollins' bloop double and an RBI single by Frandsen. They tied it in the fourth on an infield single by John Mayberry Jr. and an RBI double by Ty Wigginton.
Frandsen led off the fifth with a double and scored one out later on Ryan Howard's sacrifice fly to center, giving the Phillies a 3-2 lead.
Niese (10-8) allowed three runs, nine hits and a walk and struck out four in six innings despite being weakened by the last stages of a flu bug.
"We won two out of three," Collins said. "We played good here. We've got to use it to our advantage and take it to the next town. For us to finish where we want to finish, we've got to start winning series after series."