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Steven Matz struggles as Phillies' offensive outburst pounds Mets

Mets starting pitcher Steven Matz, right, reacts after

Mets starting pitcher Steven Matz, right, reacts after giving up a home run to Philadelphia Phillies' Jean Segura, back left, during the first inning of a baseball game, Monday, June 24, 2019. Photo Credit: AP/Matt Slocum

PHILADELPHIA — The June swoon that has ruined Steven Matz’s previously strong first half continued Monday with another abbreviated outing at Citizens Bank Park.

The Phillies tagged Matz for seven runs in 4 1⁄3 innings in the Mets’ 13-7 loss, raising the lefthander’s ERA to 4.85. That is up from 3.55 at the beginning of the month, when Matz stood as the team’s most effective and consistent starter.

When Matz exited Monday, Brooks Pounders entered. He  allowed five runs and six hits in 1 2⁄3 innings, including a pinch-hit two-run homer by former Met Jay Bruce in the sixth. That turned a relatively close game into a doubled-up 12-6 score, all but ending what had been a back-and-forth slugfest.

“I was really proud of the way we swung the bats all day,” manager Mickey Callaway said. “But our pitching just didn’t get it done.”

Said Matz: “We just gotta get back to work executing pitches, especially in big spots. Got a lot of time left and just got to keep working and get back to that point.”

This was a massive offensive outburst for the Phillies, who snapped a seven-game losing streak in which they scored 15 runs. The Mets returned to a season-worst five games under .500 at 37-42.

This barrage wasn’t as bad as Matz’s April shellacking here — eight runs, no outs — but it got started just as quickly. The Phillies struck for three runs in the first, including solo homers by Jean Segura and Rhys Hoskins. J.T. Realmuto later scored from second on Roman Quinn’s two-out dribbler single after Matz’s throw pulled first baseman Pete Alonso off the bag.

Bryce Harper added RBI doubles in the second and fourth. Maikel Franco ended Matz’s night with a two-run shot — 433 feet to center — in the fifth.

The worst of Matz’s innings was the first, which frequently has been the case this year and in his career. In 2019, he has a 10.93 ERA in the first inning. That is a still-high 7.07 ERA if you exclude the April 16 outlier against the Phillies. In all other innings, his ERA is 3.53.

Matz said he recently altered his pregame road routine because he felt good at Citi Field (pitching the top of the first) but less so away from home (pitching the bottom of the first). It didn’t seem to work.

“We’ve done just about everything,” Callaway said. “We gotta continue to try to execute pitches earlier in the game.”

The Mets smacked around Zach Eflin for six runs and 11 hits in five innings. Todd Frazier, Wilson Ramos and Michael Conforto homered.

Later, Bruce did the same. It was his seventh long ball since the Mariners traded him to the Phillies on June 2 and 21st overall. The Mets dumped him on Seattle last winter in the Edwin Diaz/Robinson Cano trade.

“I don’t think about it being sweeter or not sweet or whatever,” Bruce said of homering against his old team. “I only have so much energy to put toward things.”

Notes & quotes: Noah Syndergaard will make a rehab start with short-season Class A Brooklyn on Tuesday. Out since May 16 with a strained right hamstring, he could rejoin the Mets’ rotation Sunday .  .  .   Pete Alonso was named NL player of the week for last week. In seven games, he had a .417/.548/1.042 slash line, seven RBIs and four homers, bringing his season total to 27, a Mets rookie record.

         

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