PHILADELPHIA - R.A. Dickey spent part of Saturday afternoon walking around Philadelphia's busy Chestnut Street shopping area. You might expect a member of the Mets to face some harassment from Phillies fans, but Dickey is anonymous enough that he looked like any other 35-year-old man out for a stroll.
Dickey is one of the feel-good stories of a Mets season that is increasingly starting to feel bad. He has pitched so well that it was reasonable to think he could match zeros with Roy Halladay Sunday and give the Mets a chance to win their weekend series against the depleted Phillies - and back-to-back games for the first time since late June.
Alas, Dickey's knuckler wasn't dancing - or as he put it, "I didn't get that extra little wiggle" - and a key error by Jose Reyes didn't help. Facing a lineup without the injured Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Shane Victorino, Dickey allowed six runs (four earned) in three innings. The Mets got to Halladay but still fell to the Phillies, 6-5.
"I just felt like I threw poorly," said Dickey (7-5, 2.65 ERA). "When Roy has a game like that, you need to take advantage of it because he doesn't have many. I pitch better, we win the game."
The Mets scored five runs in seven innings against Halladay (14-8, 2.34) and battled back gamely after falling behind 6-2. Still, they dropped two of three in the series and four of six on the trip to Atlanta and Philadelphia, the teams ahead of them in the NL East. The Mets are nine games behind the Braves.
"We're going to have to start clicking in a number of different areas," said David Wright, who went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts and combined with Carlos Beltran to go 0-for-8 with six K's. "I don't think that you could say we've really excelled in any area. We've been really below average in a few of those areas since the All-Star break."
In previous days, it was the hitting that was below average. Sunday, it was Dickey, helped along by a Reyes error on a routine grounder in the Phillies' five-run third inning. Reyes tried to backhand a ball hit by Placido Polanco, but it went off his glove for his 12th error and earned a reaction from Jerry Manuel.
"I think [Reyes] has got to get back to . . . pre-pitch preparation," Manuel said. "Every now and then, he gets a little lax in that. As soon as he gets lax, it kind of bites him."
Jayson Werth hit a solo homer to dead center in the second. The ball fooled Beltran, who drifted back as if he planned on picking it out of the air with ease. Instead, he slammed face-first into the fence as the ball disappeared over it. "I didn't know how close I was to the wall," said Beltran, who was not injured. "When I was about to jump, I just got stuck on the fence . . . I would have caught it if I didn't get stuck in the fence."
Beltran, who was double-switched out of the game in the seventh, is down to .195. Manuel plans to rest him Tuesday when the Mets begin a series with the Rockies at Citi Field.
The Mets had the tying run in scoring position with one out in the ninth against Brad Lidge, but Chris Carter grounded out and Reyes skied to center to end the game.
"They threw three pretty good pitchers at us in this series," Manuel said. "We had a chance to win two out of three. Just didn't get it done."