Mets' miscues hurt Zack Wheeler in loss to Royals

Zack Wheeler delivers a pitch during a game Zack Wheeler delivers a pitch during a game against the Kansas City Royals at Citi Field. (Aug. 4, 2013) Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

advertisement | advertise on newsday

The boo-birds came out in the fifth inning Sunday -- literally. The fans at Citi Field booed Byrd. Loudly.

What to that point had been a solid start for Zack Wheeler came undone in a sloppy, mistake-filled frame highlighted by Marlon Byrd's misplays of two fly balls to rightfield.

The two plays helped give the Royals three runs and the Mets a 6-2 loss as they dropped two of three to Kansas City.

"You feel like you're the reason you lost the game," Byrd said. "The two balls I misplayed basically killed the momentum of the game."

With Kansas City already up 1-0 on Mike Moustakas' fourth-inning homer, David Lough led off the Royals' fifth with a pop fly to shallow right. Byrd, struggling with the sun, had the ball drop behind him as he shielded his eyes with his glove. Lough made it to second with what was ruled a double.

Miguel Tejada's sacrifice bunt moved Lough to third and pinch runner Jarrod Dyson scored on a wild pitch to put the Royals up 2-0.

After Eric Hosmer walked, Alex Gordon hit a fly ball to the warning track in right-centerfield. Byrd again had difficulty with the sun, tried to backhand the drive and had it go off his glove -- this one was called an error -- to put runners on second and third. Lorenzo Cain's two-run single made it 4-0.

Byrd said the "high sun" was troublesome but added that his two years in the Cubs' outfield should have prepared him for it.

"Marlon has done nothing but play sensational rightfield," manager Terry Collins said. "Today he showed exactly why playing right in Citi Field is tough . . . It's not midsummer anymore and the sun was in a tough spot."

Second baseman Daniel Murphy completely fanned on a pop-up in the second for an error, but the Royals didn't capitalize.

Collins put the onus on Wheeler, who did little to help himself in the fifth. His inning included three walks (one intentional) and two wild pitches (one of which allowed a run to score), along with a passed ball charged to John Buck.

Eric Young Jr.'s RBI single in the bottom of the inning made it 4-1, but as the design of a bad day would have it, the inning ended on Byrd's strikeout with the bases loaded, and he again was booed.

Wheeler (4-2), coming off a start in which he had a no-hitter through six innings against the Marlins on Tuesday, was mediocre. In five innings, he allowed four runs (three earned), five hits and five walks with five strikeouts.

"It's not their fault,'' Wheeler said of the defense. "If I had made my pitches, down in the zone, I would've had ground balls . . . If there's an error behind me or things aren't going my way, I have to make my pitches and try to get out of the inning. It didn't happen today."

The Mets, who had won each of Wheeler's last five starts, hoped to get length from him after using the bullpen extensively during extra-inning games against the Royals on Friday and Saturday.

But after 101 pitches, only 58 of which were strikes, Wheeler came out for a pinch hitter in the bottom of the fifth. RBI singles by Hosmer and Gordon off Gonzalez Germen made it 6-1 in the sixth. Buck had an RBI single in the eighth after Royals starter Ervin Santana (8-6) allowed one run in six innings.

"Unfortunately," Collins said, "we couldn't hit the ball that high to get their rightfielder involved."

You also may be interested in: