These are trying times for the Mets. They are trying to make trades, trying to win games and trying to keep pace with the division-leading Nationals. But they went 0-for-48 hours in all three categories, and Thursday's 8-7 loss to the Padres marked yet another trying moment for rapidly declining closer Jeurys Familia.
The Mets built a 7-1 lead through six innings, helped by a three-run home run by Curtis Granderson and a solo shot by Juan Uribe, and wasted a strong effort by starting pitcher Jonathon Niese. They had nothing to show for a 6-hour, 12-minute day, which included rain delays of 44 minutes and 2 hours, 52 minutes.
"Any time you lose a tough game this time of year, they're hard to take,'' Terry Collins said. "You're fighting hard, have a big lead and to see it dwindle as fast as it did, these are tough ones.''
And for his closer, it's becoming all too, well, familiar. Familia blew a save opportunity for the fifth time this season and third time since the All-Star break, and he did it in shocking fashion.
With the Mets leading 7-5 in the ninth after a seventh-inning grand slam by Derek Norris off Hansel Robles, Familia retired the first two batters, had a one-strike count on Norris when the first rain delay occurred and got ahead of him 0-and-2 after the game resumed.
But singles by Norris -- who entered the game with a .227 average and had a career-high five hits -- and Matt Kemp and a three-run homer to right-center by Justin Upton give the Padres an 8-7 lead.
The Mets then waited nearly three hours to go down in order against Craig Kimbrel in the bottom of the ninth.
Collins said he never hesitated staying with Familia after the delay. "You look back at the pitches he made and they're in the middle of the plate,'' Collins said of Familia. "You know you're going to get hurt at this level if you do that.''
Familia had no excuses about the rain delay or anything else. "I just made a bad pitch, left it in the middle,'' he said of Upton's homer. "I feel good, my arm is good. It is what it is. That's the game. We're going to have bad times, good times.''
Collins was asked if he will keep Familia as the closer despite newly acquired Tyler Clippard's ability to fill that role. "He's still going to be the closer,'' Collins said of Familia, "but we'll hopefully get his confidence back and get him out there a little bit more often and we'll see what the results are.''
Clippard, who pitched a scoreless eighth against the Padres, was asked about Familia's hard times. "It's always difficult. That's the life of a reliever,'' he said. "It's feast or famine for us.''
He also said he would be ready to close if asked. "I'm prepared to do whatever they ask me to do,'' he said.
Granderson, with two hits and a run-saving catch, said the team will try not to dwell on recent events. "Regardless of what you do individually, there's still the team side of it,'' he said. "We unfortunately were on the wrong side of the coin at the end of the game. San Diego took advantage of all 27 outs.''
Upton is the sort of bat the Mets are looking to add by Friday's 4 p.m. non-waiver trade deadline.
"There's a lot of bats, he's definitely one of them and could be one of them,'' Granderson said. "He's definitely a great hitter and he's been doing that for the majority of his career.''
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