Colorado's shortstop turned a promising start for Jonathon Niese into another head-scratching loss for the Mets Wednesday night, belting a three-run home run in the fifth inning to lead the Rockies to a 5-4 win on a misty night. It was the sixth loss in seven games for the Mets (4-7), who close the series with the Rockies in a doubleheader Thursday.
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The deflation was palpable, said manager Terry Collins. "There was a sense in the dugout, an air," he said.
Within minutes of the loss, the Mets held a two-minute meeting, in which Collins maintained his support for his players, but delivered some much-needed tough love.
"It's time to start making pitches, it's time to start getting a big two-out hit," he told the media. ". . . We're one pitch a way from being 9-2. And we're not."
Of late, the Mets have been just one pitch or one swing away from winning games, said third baseman David Wright.
"We've had some great plays made on us, we've had some very good players get some clutch hits on us," said Wright (1-for-5), who added that a lack of effort and preparation isn't the issue. " . . . We've got to stay away from getting deflated emotionally. Especially with two tomorrow."
Coming into the game, Niese (0-2, 6.88 ERA) had allowed six earned runs in three of his previous four starts dating to last season. But he hadn't surrendered a home run. That is, until he tied his personal high at Citi Field (two) last night.
Tulowitzki (3-for-4 with an intentional walk) scorched a 90-mph fastball to give the Rockies a 4-3 lead in the fifth. It was his fifth home run of the season.
Though Wright said he liked that Collins showed confidence in Niese, the lefthander wasn't so sure.
"I wanted to pitch to him," he said of Tulowitzki. "Obviously, hindsight's 20-20. If I could do it over again I would. But I went out there with my best stuff. But the results weren't there again."
Niese allowed five earned runs and seven hits, striking out five and walking three.
The Mets tried to mount a comeback in the bottom of the fifth, courtesy of Angel Pagan's first triple of the year, but Willie Harris, who went 0-for-3 with runners on base, grounded out. The Rockies tacked on another run in the sixth on a solo home run by Ryan Spilborghs, effectively ending Niese's night.
A quiet crowd of 25,878 had something to cheer about in the seventh when Wright and Carlos Beltran (2-for-4) hit back-to-back singles off reliever Felipe Paulino with no outs. A Pagan sacrifice fly with one out pulled the Mets to within 5-4, but a strikeout by Harris quashed the comeback.
"Everybody knows we've got to play better," Wright said. "The record speaks for itself. But . . . we've got to make sure that people aren't hanging their heads. We're still talking about 10, 11 games into the season."
Taylor Buchholz pitched a scoreless seventh and Pedro Beato worked out of trouble in the eighth, thanks to a nimble defensive play by second baskeman Daniel Murphy. D.J. Carrasco, who likely will start Friday night, allowed two runners in a scoreless ninth. Huston Street then retired the Mets in the ninth for his sixth save.