SAN FRANCISCO - The moment Hunter Pence entered his slide in short rightfield, his attempt to catch Ruben Tejada's shallow fly ball, Mets leftfielder Curtis Granderson decided he would make a run for it.
So, he retreated to third base, then readied for his mad dash to the plate. He dared the Giants rightfielder to make a perfect throw.
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"I saw him dive for it, and I took off, figured that if a guy's got to get on the ground for it, it's not as easy of a play even though the distance of it isn't far," Granderson said, after the Mets' 3-0 loss to the Giants. "But he was able to get up quickly and make a really good throw."
It was the closest the Mets would come to scoring on a night in which they absorbed their 10th shutout of the season, and third in their last eight games.
Pence's remarkable sixth-inning double play highlighted his involvement in ending the Giants' seven-game losing streak. He had missed the last month with a wrist injury. But in his first game back, he knocked in a pair of runs and denied the Mets their best chance to score.
"He made a tremendous play," Mets manager Terry Collins said.
Veteran righthander Bartolo Colon allowed three runs (two earned) over six innings. He allowed 10 hits -- all of them singles.
"Even though it was 10 hits, it felt like only two were hard hits," Colon said through a translator.
Meanwhile, the Mets came away with three extra-base hits, including a pair of doubles by Kevin Plawecki and a stand-up triple by Granderson.
But it made little difference.
"We didn't mount much offense," Collins said.
At the center of the Mets' loss was the Giants' two-run third inning, a rally spurred on by an error. It belonged to third baseman Daniel Murphy, who fielded Matt Duffy's grounder but flubbed the exchange, thus extending the frame.
Gregor Blanco already had led off with a drag bunt before Joe Panik lined a single. Murphy's error loaded the bases for Pence, who grounded into force out but knocked in the Giants' first run.
Brandon Crawford's sacrifice fly made it 2-0. The way the Mets offense languished against Giants starter Matt Cain -- making just his second start of the year after being sidelined by arm issues -- even a two-run lead seemed insurmountable.
The Mets (43-42), who had come off consecutive shutout victories, can still return to New York Wednesday with a winning record on a daunting six-game West Coast road trip.
But they'll have to provide more support for Jacob deGrom than they did for Colon (9-7).
The Mets had the makings of a rally in the sixth when Granderson bashed a stand-up triple to start the frame. But Pence made sure that Cain would depart with nothing but zeros to his name.
When Tejada lifted a fly ball into shallow rightfield, Pence entered a slide, made the catch, then popped up to make a perfect throw to home plate.
It arrived on a line, in time to nab Granderson, who mistakenly thought he could get the Mets on the board by tagging up.
"He plays the game the right way," Collins said of Pence. "He always did."