Pelfrey struggles again as Mets lose to Diamondbacks, 9-6

New York Mets starting pitcher Mike Pelfrey (34)

New York Mets starting pitcher Mike Pelfrey (34) reacts while pitching in the top of the first inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks. (July 30, 2010) (Credit: Christopher Pasatieri)

Even David Wright's outstanding performance could not save Mike Pelfrey and the Mets.

Wright hit a three-run home run in the first and a two-run shot in the third, but Pelfrey's July struggles continued Friday night as the Arizona Diamondbacks beat the Mets, 9-6, in front of 34,280 at Citi Field.

Pelfrey allowed eight hits and five runs (four earned) in 52/3 innings - an improvement on his previous start against Arizona on July 19, when he lasted only 11/3 innings in the Diamondbacks' 13-2 rout in Arizona.

But Pelfrey didn't take the loss, as Raul Valdes was charged with four runs and four hits in the sixth inning and didn't get an out. The five-run inning gave Arizona a 9-5 lead.

Arizona starter Ian Kennedy (6-8) reached on an error by Jose Reyes with one out in the sixth, and one out later, Jerry Manuel called on the lefthanded Valdes to face lefthanded-hitting Kelly Johnson. And that's when everything fell apart.

"I was truly surprised because I thought that was a tremendous matchup in our favor,'' Manuel said.

Valdes (2-3), who had thrown 10 scoreless innings in his past six outings, surrendered a two-run homer to Johnson that put Arizona ahead 6-5. After back-to-back singles by Justin Upton and Adam LaRoche, lefthanded-hitting Miguel Montero hit a three-run homer over the rightfield wall.

Before Friday night, the Mets' bullpen had posted a 1.36 ERA in the past nine games. Valdes said he had gotten up a few times in the bullpen before entering the game, but that had no effect on his performance.

But Valdes' struggles couldn't overshadow the truth: Pelfrey isn't cutting it. At least not right now.

"He had evolved into a guy who was talked about as an All-Star pitcher," Manuel said before the game. "And when you have a guy that has that kind of half and then slips back, that puts a chink in the armor."

Pelfrey had allowed 12 first-inning runs in his previous nine starts and opponents were hitting .317 (26-for-82) with eight extra-base hits during the first inning before Friday night's game. He also was 0-3 with an 11.40 ERA in his previous four starts.

Five of the first six batters he faced Friday night reached base in a three-run first inning for the Diamondbacks (37-65), the NL West's worst team. Pelfrey threw 40 pitches in the inning - 11 shy of what he needed to get through the first inning in his previous start against Arizona.

"The first three runs ended up biting us in the butt," said Pelfrey, who has allowed 54 hits and 27 earned runs in 251/3 innings over six starts. "The first inning, I didn't think they were terrible pitches, but they ended up finding holes.''

LaRoche, Montero and Mark Reynolds had RBI singles in the inning. Wright's three-run blast to left in the bottom of the first tied it at 3. But doubles by Montero and Stephen Drew gave Arizona a 4-3 lead in the third.

"The main thing is he's trying to be too fine with his pitches,'' catcher Henry Blanco said. "[But] I think he's going to be fine.''

Wright gave Pelfrey a 5-4 lead in the third with a two-run shot that sailed over the 408-foot sign in centerfield and dropped in the black beside the Home Run Apple. It was the 15th career multi-homer game for Wright, who became the first Met this season to get five RBIs in a game.

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