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Mets lose wacky game on unassisted triple play

Eric Bruntlett tags out Daniel Murphy to end

Eric Bruntlett tags out Daniel Murphy to end the game with an unassisted triple play on Sunday. Credit: David Pokress

There were no words.

OK, there were words, but not the sort that can be printed here.

"That's just some --, all I can say," Jeff Francoeur said.

Daniel Murphy added: "I thought of a couple words, but I can't say 'em."

Both Mets were involved in the craziest ending to a baseball game in decades, an unassisted triple play by Phillies second baseman Eric Bruntlett to finish off Philadelphia's 9-7 win.

Pedro Martinez (2-0) pitched six capable innings to pick up a win against his old team. Oliver Perez (3-4) lasted just two-thirds of an inning, giving up a pair of long three-run homers and throwing 47 pitches.

But those ended up being sideshows before the main attraction as the Mets fought back from the 6-0 deficit to pull within 9-6 entering their last at-bat against Brad Lidge.

Angel Pagan had two homers, one inside-the-park, another wacky play on which Phillies centerfielder Shane Victorino pleaded for the umpires to rule the ball out of play although it was barely wedged under the wall padding, allowing Pagan to circle the bases in the first.

Pagan led off the ninth with a shot down the first-base line that went between Ryan Howard's legs for a three-base error. Bruntlett booted Luis Castillo's grounder, allowing Pagan to score and Castillo to reach base. Then Murphy had an infield single when Bruntlett made a nice play to stop the ball behind second but couldn't control it.

"We scratched and clawed our way back, didn't give an at-bat away," Murphy said.

With two on and none out, Francoeur came up as the winning run. He had a bad left thumb (postgame X-rays were negative), a result of a diving catch in the top of the ninth - yet another odd play, as his clear diving grab to rob Bruntlett of a fourth hit initially was ruled a trap by second-base umpire Rob Drake. The umpires got together and correctly reversed the call.

But Bruntlett paid Francoeur back, and then some. When Castillo and Murphy took off on Lidge's 2-and-2 curveball, he moved to his right to cover second. And Francoeur hit a rocket up the middle, right to where Bruntlett had moved.

"I'm thinking, 'That wasn't smart baseball,' " said Jimmy Rollins, who never misses a chance to tweak the Mets.

Bruntlett caught the liner for one out. He stepped on second to double off Castillo for the second out. Then he tagged Murphy for the third out, leaving everyone stunned. It was the 15th unassisted triple play in big-league history and the second time a game ended on an unassisted triple play; the other was May 31, 1927, when Tigers first baseman Johnny Neun did it.

"That was the only place [Bruntlett] could catch that ball," Francoeur said. "You can take some things, some losses, but that hurts. You figure after we got a couple breaks with errors, with the reversed call, we were going to win the game."

Ultimately, most of the blame for the loss lay with Perez, who hadn't been "Awful Ollie" for a long while. He didn't record an out until his 30th pitch; 12 of them were to Jayson Werth, who fouled off six straight before depositing a low fastball into the second deck in left.

That was only the first three-run homer of the first inning. Carlos Ruiz launched the second; Perez then went to 3-and-0 on Martinez and Jerry Manuel couldn't wait any longer.

Martinez said he would have felt disrespected to be yanked in the middle of an at-bat, but Perez didn't seem fazed. "He's the manager, you have to understand," he said. "He's the boss. I don't feel too good [when he was pulled] because I didn't do my job."

A Mets win wouldn't have meant much. But somehow they found a new way to lose, one that made them feel even worse.

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