The way the Mets have been struggling at the plate lately, a deficit must feel as hopeless as trying to swiftly navigate New York City rush-hour traffic.
For the fifth straight game, they were held to four or fewer hits. They're hitting .134 in that span, and as those around the game like to quip: You're not going to win many games that way.
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And they did lose again Monday, for the fifth time in seven games on the homestand, this time to the Chicago Cubs, 4-1, before 23,271 at Citi Field.
Making it all the more frustrating, emergency starter Carlos Torres did as well as the Mets could have hoped, considering that scheduled starter Bartolo Colon had to leave the team at the last minute to be with his ailing mother in the Dominican Republic.
Torres, who learned he would be pitching when he received a phone call from bullpen coach Ricky Bones less than four hours before the game, did not allow a run in five innings. He gave up three hits, struck out six and walked two. But he had nothing to show for it.
"There's no easy answers," manager Terry Collins said. "It's just about not trying to do too much, put the barrel on the baseball and whatever happens happens."
The Mets' only run came on a homer by Lucas Duda, his 22nd, in the fourth inning. Not until Daniel Murphy led off the ninth with a double did they finally have their first at-bat with a runner in scoring position.
But nothing came of the rare rally. David Wright struck out swinging, Duda flied out and Travis d'Arnaud struck out looking.
"The last couple of days, we just can't score runs," Wright said. "It's a tall task to go up there, score one, two runs, get four, five hits and expect to win."
This marks only the third time in the 53 years of the franchise that the Mets have gone five straight games with four or fewer hits, and the first since 2004.
How unusual is this type of run? No major-league team had had such a streak of futility since that last Mets team.
Collins could only guess at the reasons, suggesting that perhaps hitters are trying too hard or taking too many batting-practice swings in an attempt to break out.
"It's all throughout the lineup," Collins said. "There's no question we're not putting the ball in play better."
The Cubs scored the go-ahead run with one out in the eighth when Anthony Rizzo hit a laser home run to right-centerfield off Buddy Carlyle (1-1). Rizzo's 28th home run snapped the righthander's scoreless streak at 13 innings. It was the first homer allowed by Carlyle all season (181/3 innings).
Rookie second baseman Javier Baez added a mammoth two-run homer into the second deck in left off Jenrry Mejia in the ninth, sending many of the remaining fans to the exits. ESPN estimated that the drive traveled 434 feet.
The Mets scored first when Duda deposited a 1-and-2 pitch from rookie Kyle Hendricks (5-1, 1.66 ERA) into the Cubs' bullpen in right-center with one out in the fourth. It was Duda's second home run since Aug. 1, spanning 56 at-bats.
But once Torres left, the 1-0 lead didn't last long. Three hitters, to be exact.
Lefthander Dana Eveland, who replaced Torres, gave up a leadoff double to Rizzo, and after Starlin Castro struck out, Luis Valbuena singled to right to tie it at 1.