PHILADELPHIA -- The ball was sinking fast and Carlos Beltran was running. Not as fast. Not as fast as he used to.
Playing a position he is still not familiar with, Beltran's first move for Placido Polanco's liner to rightfield with two outs in the fifth inning last night was a tentative one.
Beltran dove and almost caught it. But he didn't. And the Mets were on their way to being sunk.
The ball bounced off Beltran's glove and the go-ahead run scored in the Phillies' 10-7 win over the Mets at Citizens Bank Park.
The Mets, who tied the score with help from Beltran after falling behind 7-0 will have to live with his learning curve in right after a lifetime spent in center.
"That was a tough play," manager Terry Collins said. "I think Carlos will probably make it . I thought he made a great effort. From where I was sitting, it looked like he caught it."
Beltran, who had an RBI single and scored two runs, said his lack of time in rightfield wasn't a factor in the play. He also thought he had trapped the ball, but he kicked it away and couldn't find it for a while.
"As soon as he hit it, I thought I was going to make it," he said. "But I didn't get to it . . . That can happen anywhere -- centerfield, rightfield, leftfield. I don't feel that I did anything wrong. I feel that I reacted to the ball and I just couldn't get to it."
The Mets (3-2) had come back gamely from their Mike Pelfrey-induced deficit with two runs in the fourth and five in the fifth. The rest of the game was a battle of the bullpens. The Phillies (4-2) won that battle to tie the series at a game apiece with Roy Halladay facing Jonathon Niese this afternoon.
Blaine Boyer (0-1), the Mets' third pitcher, allowed the run-scoring hit to Polanco and another to Ryan Howard (4-for-4, 2 2Bs, HR, walk) to give the Phillies a 9-7 lead. Boyer also gave up a solo home run to Ben Francisco in the sixth.
The Phillies' bullpen, meanwhile, pitched 42/3 innings of scoreless ball to bail out Joe Blanton, who frittered away most of the 7-0 lead.
Pelfrey allowed seven runs (six earned) in two-plus innings. The Mets' Opening Day starter's ERA after two outings is 15.63.
"I was awful," Pelfrey said. "Any time the team scores seven runs, I've got to win. Obviously, I was bad last week and I was even worse tonight. I let them down again."
Thrust into the role of No. 1 starter by Johan Santana's shoulder surgery, Pelfrey has allowed 12 runs (11 earned) and 12 hits in 61/3 innings. The unearned run was his fault, too.
Down 2-0 with one out in the second, Pelfrey let a sacrifice bunt attempt by Blanton fall to the grass instead of catching it because he heard David Wright yell, "Let it go! Drop! Drop!"
The idea was to start a double play. But Pelfrey, who said he didn't get a good grip on the ball, threw a one-hopper to first base that skipped past covering Brad Emaus and into rightfield, leading to the Phillies' third run.
"The thought process was good," Collins said. "The execution needs a little work."