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Mets tie it twice in extras but fall to Diamondbacks, 5-4, in 15 innings

Mets hitter Kirk Nieuwenhuis reacts after losing a

Mets hitter Kirk Nieuwenhuis reacts after losing a baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks. (July 4, 2013) Credit: AP

At their best, the Mets look like a resilient, scrappy group eager to prove their season still has some life remaining.

At their worst, they look like an overmatched club with a faulty bullpen and a few too many Triple-A hitters.

And then there are days like Thursday, when in a 5-4 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks, there was enough time (5 hours, 46 minutes) and innings (15) to show off both the Jekyll and Hyde versions.

Once again they showed impressive resolve, coming through with tying homers by Anthony Recker and Kirk Nieuwenhuis in the 13th and 14th to stay alive. But their bullpen woes and earlier offensive struggles proved too costly.

Relievers David Aardsma, Brandon Lyon and Scott Rice each allowed a run in the final three innings. The Mets went 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position and left 14 on base.

To say they left for Milwaukee feeling deflated might not do their mind-set justice, considering the rough stretch they just experienced. Consider that when the Mets began this homestand, they were coming off games on three consecutive days in three different time zones. During the seven-game homestand, they went to extra innings twice and sat through rain delays of nearly two hours twice.

"I've never been through two weeks of more grueling baseball than what we've just been through," Terry Collins said. "How some of those guys are still standing, I have no idea."

That the Mets' homestand ended with a 15-inning affair -- a game in which Collins ran out of position players and was prepared to use Jeremy Hefner in the field -- seemed fitting.

"Kind of feels like the whole season has been like this," said Recker, who caught the entire game and tied the score at 3-3 by homering off Heath Bell with two outs in the 13th. "Rain delays, rain days. Extra innings, we've had a few of those, too."

The difference between winning and losing sometimes can be so minuscule and the reaction so wildly different. Had the Mets found a way to win, this could have been an uplifting one. And they had their chances up until the end.

After two walks, the Mets had two men on with one out in the bottom of the 15th, but Brad Ziegler got Jordany Valdespin and Nieuwenhuis to ground out.

That ended a game that was so long that starter Dillon Gee said it felt as though he "watched more baseball than actually pitched." His math was right: He allowed two runs in seven innings and was out of the game for the final eight innings.

"They're tired," Collins said. "There's three guys who said their legs were gone in the 10th inning. You can certainly understand it."

The Mets won't return home until after Citi Field plays host to the All-Star Game July 16, and they certainly would have preferred to depart for Milwaukee to kick off a nine-game, three-city road trip on a high note.

Arizona scored in each of the final three innings but struggled to put the Mets away.

Aardsma issued a four-pitch, bases-loaded walk to Cody Ross in the 13th to make it 3-2, but Recker's two-out homer tied it.

Martin Prado's two-out RBI single in the 14th off Lyon -- who was designated for assignment after the game, with Greg Burke getting recalled -- opened a 4-3 lead, but Nieuwenhuis' one-out homer, which just cleared the left-centerfield fence, tied it.

In the 15th, Rice retired the first two hitters before allowing singles to Gerardo Parra, Wil Nieves and Cliff Pennington. This time the Mets couldn't answer.

As hard as it was to lose, Collins felt for his players, saying he was "proud" of their performance. "We haven't gone to bed before 2 o'clock the last three or four nights," Collins said. "Right now we should have been sitting in our hotel in Milwaukee, and we haven't left here yet."

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