Nationals beat Mets in 10 innings, send Mets to 10th loss in 11 games

Jason Bay flips his bat after striking out

Jason Bay flips his bat after striking out to end the second inning. (July 23, 2012) (Credit: David Pokress)

The Mets definitely are not buyers, in the trading sense. What they are trying to buy is time, until their youth movement develops. The problems for the Mets are that the Nationals have a head start on them, youthwise, and these late losses are getting really old.

A six-run burst by the Nationals in the 10th inning, fueled by a Mets error and some more poor relief pitching, turned a nice, taut game into an 8-2 loss Monday night, the club's 10th in the past 11 games.

The Mets are 1-9 since the All-Star break.

Bryce Harper, the 19-year-old who figures to haunt the Mets for years, broke the tie with a single off Pedro Beato before Ryan Zimmerman hit a three-run double and Michael Morse hit a two-run homer.

It was the second game in a row the Mets brought into extra innings, only to have it turn into a blowout. As one-sided as they are, games like this tend to turn on little plays. This time, it was shortstop Ruben Tejada dropping a throw at second base from losing pitcher Tim Byrdak in the 10th.

If the Mets make that play, maybe they get out of the inning. "It's frustrating, but it's part of the game," said Chris Young, who struck out seven in seven innings and did not allow a hit after the three-hit first, which included a two-run homer by Harper. "It seems like we're just one play away, one bounce, one break. When things are going good, you get those. When things are going bad, they go against you."

Beato said his pitches just didn't fall the way he wanted them to.

"It's a command thing," he said. "Those pitches were all right over the plate. You're trying to go out there and do a job. The least you can do is go back out there again."

Actually, that will not happen any time soon for him and his 10.38 ERA. After the game, he was optioned to Triple-A Buffalo to make roster space for pitching prospect Matt Harvey, scheduled to be activated Tuesday before his major-league debut in Arizona on Thursday.

Harvey joins a team that is battling despair.

In one way, you never know what you might see at a Mets game -- Monday night featured four innings of rain, Star Wars characters and an appearance by "Jersey Shore" star Snooki (booed louder than was Jason Bay, who failed to drive home a run from second in the bottom of the ninth).

In the end, though, there was no element of surprise.

"I've got to make that play," said Tejada, whose right leg was bloody in two places because he was spiked by Roger Bernadina right before he dropped the ball.

He didn't blame the drop on the spike. "I've got to concentrate better," he said.

Terry Collins basically said the same about his relievers, one of whom always seems to drop the ball, figuratively speaking.

"Try to stay upbeat, try not to look defeated on the mound. I don't want those guys looking in the dugout," the manager said. "Go get the next hitter. Don't look around for help because, guess what, you've got to get the job done."

The Mets had cut the deficit to 2-1 on David Wright's new Citi Field home run to left-centerfield against strong young pitcher Jordan Zimmermann in the fourth. For Wright, it was his 15th homer of the season and career homer 198, the same as Barry Larkin, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame on Sunday.

The fans who remained in their rain-soaked seats in the seventh were loudly chanting "Let's go, Mets" after Ike Davis hit the rightfield foul pole for his 15th home run of the season. He homered on the first pitch from reliever Michael Gonzalez, a lefty who was brought in specifically to face him.

That tied the score, and set up another familiar finish.

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