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Davis homers twice, but Mets fall to Giants, 8-4

The Giants' Barry Zito, right, is forced out

The Giants' Barry Zito, right, is forced out by Mets first baseman Ike Davis as Zito is caught between bases following a fly ball to right field by Andres Torres during the fifth inning. (July 16, 2010) Photo Credit: AP

SAN FRANCISCO - It took the legs of Carlos Beltran, who hustled for a triple on a bad knee, and the first of two home runs by the slumping Ike Davis to finally end the Mets' scoreless streak at 24 innings Saturday night at AT&T Park.

Beltran opened the eighth with a liner to center off Giants starter Matt Cain and Davis immediately followed with a blast that skimmed like a rock off the top of the fans lining the brick walkway in right before splashing down in McCovey Cove.

Davis, who had only six extra-base hits in his previous 25 games, halted the Mets' longest scoreless stretch since 1992, when they failed to cross the plate in 30 innings.

"It made the game closer; that's all we were really thinking about it," said Davis, who also had a two-homer game May 7. "We can't really think about what happened in the last two games."

The Mets weren't in a mood to celebrate. They may have stopped one streak, but thanks to a dismal outing by Hisanori Takahashi, the losing continued unabated. Takahashi allowed six runs in 22/3 innings as the Mets fell to the Giants, 8-4, for their third straight loss since the All-Star break. They have lost seven of their last nine.

The Giants pounded Takahashi for five runs in the second inning, punctuated by Andres Torres' three-run shot. Rookie catcher Buster Posey added a solo blast in the third off Takahashi, who slipped to 4-3 with a 6.27 ERA in 10 starts.

The Giants won the first two games of the series with a total of three runs. Once Takahashi put the Mets in a 6-0 hole after three innings, their offensive drought became more intimidating.

"It's always hard when you fall behind so early in the game," Beltran said. "It was late, but at least we scored a few runs."

Despite the poor showing, and Oliver Perez now pitching on his same day at Triple-A Buffalo, it looks as though Takahashi will keep his spot in the rotation for at least another turn Thursday against the Dodgers in Los Angeles. Perez gave up three runs, including two homers, in 62/3 innings Saturday for the Bisons and the Mets do not believe he is ready for a promotion.

The team has until July 30 to activate Perez, who has made five rehab starts so far. That does not mean, however, they are not worrying about Takahashi, whose start was moved up two days early to fill in after Mike Pelfrey was pushed back because of a stiff neck.

"Obviously, we didn't anticipate this type of outing from Takahashi," Jerry Manuel said. "It has to be somewhat concerning. When you give up a number of runs in bunches, sometimes those are difficult to defend or overcome."

After Tim Lincecum pitched a six-hit shutout Thursday and Barry Zito followed with eight scoreless innings Friday in which he allowed two hits, Cain looked ready to continue that trend. Only one Met reached second base through the first six innings, and he retired 14 of 15 before Beltran's triple.

Beltran went 2-for-4 and was robbed of another hit in the eighth by Aubrey Huff's diving catch. In his first three games back, Beltran is 4-for-12 with a double and a run scored, but Manuel said he plans to give the centerfielder Sunday off.

David Wright had a sacrifice fly in the eighth inning and Davis led off the ninth with his second homer and 13th of the season. "We looked a lot better today but we still came up a little short," Davis said. "We've got to keep grinding. There's a lot of games left."

The Mets will be looking for help before the July 31 non-waivers trade deadline, too. Manuel reiterated his desire to have another lefthander in the bullpen, and that could hinge on Omar Minaya's luck in the starter's market.

Losing out on Cliff Lee was disappointing but hardly a surprise to the Mets, who flatly turned down the Mariners' requests for either Davis or Jonathon Niese as the main part of a trade package, according to a person familiar with those talks.

The Mets view Niese as untouchable at this point, and he polished that label Friday by allowing only one run in seven innings in a 1-0 loss to the Giants. Lefthanded and cheap, with a high ceiling, he's the player most asked about in trades for more established pitchers, and the Mets won't move him.

The Mets have interest in the Cubs' Ted Lilly, and a person familiar with the situation confirmed that the Astros' Brett Myers also is a target. But Minaya hasn't pulled the trigger because the prices remain too high and the Mets have become increasingly reluctant lately to deal any of their prospects.

That pretty much eliminates the Astros' Roy Oswalt and the Diamondbacks' Dan Haren from consideration, as either of those pitchers would command a hefty price in prospects as well as a sizable investment in the remaining contracts.

But Manuel isn't very concerned about the financial component of improving his rotation. He's in the final year of his own contract, and the manager believes the rotation could use a boost - even after watching his staff allow a total of three runs in two games coming back from the All-Star break.

"Obviously, if you see something out there better, then I don't think there's anything wrong with upgrading," Manuel said. "Because we have to evaluate from what we have seen , not wait and say let's see what happens."

That pretty much eliminates the Astros' Roy Oswalt and the Diamondbacks' Dan Haren from consideration, as either of those pitchers would command a hefty price in prospects as well as a sizable investment in the remaining contracts.

But Manuel isn't very concerned about the financial component of improving his rotation. He's in the final year of his own contract, and the manager believes the rotation could use a boost - even after watching his staff allow a total of three runs in two games coming back from the All-Star break.

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