When pitching against the team with the best record in baseball, things can change pretty quickly. And Seth Lugo and the Mets experienced that in a 7-4 loss Saturday.
Lugo was nearly perfect through five innings, retiring 13 straight Dodgers after a one-out walk to Corey Seager in the first inning. He pitched 4 2⁄3 no-hit innings before Yasmani Grandal’s double to rightfield. Lugo escaped the fifth with his shutout intact, but the sixth inning would seal his fate at Citi Field.
“They don’t have any easy outs,” Lugo said. “Every one of them, you’ve got to bear down and make pitches, and if you don’t, they’ll show you what happens if you make mistakes.”
With the top of the Dodgers’ lineup coming to the plate for the third time in the game, Chris Taylor hit a solo home run to lead off the sixth inning, cutting the Mets’ lead to 3-1. After Seager’s flyout to centerfield and Justin Turner’s single, Cody Bellinger blasted his 31st home run to right-centerfield to tie the score at 3.
Lugo got Joc Pederson to fly out to centerfield, and manager Terry Collins removed him after 5 2⁄3 innings. He allowed three runs, four hits and two walks with five strikeouts on 88 pitches.
“It’s tough and you saw it today,” Collins said. “Seth was pitching great. Third time through, he got some balls up and they did some damage.”
Lugo, whose ERA suffered a slight bump to 4.55, has struggled the third time through the order this season. Opponents have hit .362 against the righthander, compared to .299 the first time and .240 the second time through the order.
The sixth also has been difficult for Lugo, who has pitched to a 9.39 ERA in that inning this season.
The 27-year-old starter said he felt good in his outing but made a few pitches the Dodgers adjusted well to. “I thought everything was working pretty well,” Lugo said. “All my pitches were in the area where I was trying to throw it, wasn’t leaving too many pitches over the plate. A couple bad sliders in the last inning.”
Collins said he thought Lugo pitched “great” and “did all the things you wanted him to do,” but after Grandal’s fifth-inning double and Taylor’s sixth-inning home run, the problems returned.
“All of a sudden, you just saw the ball start coming up in the zone,” Collins said. “So that’s why they have the record they do.”
Despite Lugo’s strong start to the game and the Mets blasting three home runs in the first inning, they were unable to do much afterward, resulting in their third straight loss.
“That’s the game,” Lugo said. “You play nine innings for a reason. You can’t just rely on one inning to get the job done.”