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Mets can’t escape hole dug by Zack Wheeler in loss to Rockies

The righthander allows five runs in first inning; Mets hitting comes alive late, with Todd Frazier homering and Asdrubal Cabrera adding a run-scoring triple.

Mets starting pitcher Zack Wheeler walks to the

Mets starting pitcher Zack Wheeler walks to the dugout against the Rockies at Citi Field on Friday. Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

The Mets lost to the Rockies, 8-7, on Friday night at Citi Field, and this time it was impossible to blame the bats.

But you can blame Zack Wheeler — or, really, Wheeler’s first inning. He put the Mets in a deep hole, allowing hits to six of the first seven Rockies in a five-run, 29-pitch opening frame. He settled in enough to last six innings but gave up eight runs and 10 hits (matching career highs in both).

Wheeler has a 14.40 ERA and 3.40 WHIP in the first inning this season (five starts). In the rest of the game, that drops to a 3.91 ERA and 0.65 WHIP.

“First-inning troubles have been the story for me this year so far,” Wheeler said. “If I can get that figured out and ironed out, I’ll be good to go.”

“We have to be proactive in getting [Wheeler] ready to go out and compete from pitch one,” manager Mickey Callaway said. “I think you see a lower velocity, not as crisp of stuff. So he’s got to go out there and close every inning.”

The Mets put up a fight late, forcing Colorado closer Wade Davis into the game. They scored two runs in the eighth (Todd Frazier’s two-run home run) and three in the ninth (including Asdrubal Cabrera’s RBI triple), and with two outs, Michael Conforto batted with the potential winning run on base.

Conforto struck out swinging, though, ending an 0-for-5, four-strikeout night that dropped his average to .187 and OPS to .614. Callaway said he will sit in favor of Brandon Nimmo on Saturday.

“We’re not going into panic mode here,” said Conforto, who believes the struggles are caused by his timing being off. “It’s something I can work through for sure.”

Cabrera went 2-for-5 with a two-run home run in the first inning, the team’s first runs since Tuesday.

The Mets have lost four in a row and are 6-12 since their 11-1 start.

Notes & quotes: Jay Bruce made a diving stop on a hard ground ball in his season debut at first base, robbing Tony Wolters of a hit in the third . . . Steven Matz (back tightness) remains scheduled to make his start Saturday.

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