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Tough day for Curtis Granderson, but Juan Lagares and Andrew Brown step up

Curtis Granderson walks back to the dugout after

Curtis Granderson walks back to the dugout after striking out to end their Opening Day game against the Washington Nationals at Citi Field on Monday, March 31, 2014. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Curtis Granderson received an ovation worthy of David Wright when he stepped to the plate for his first regular-season at-bat for the Mets on Opening Day Monday at Citi Field. Five hitless at-bats later, a few boos were evident from what remained of the 42,442 in attendance.

But Granderson, a former Yankee, was his usual upbeat self after the Mets' 9-7 loss to the Nationals.

"Any time you can go ahead and do something successful, you want to do it," he said. "If I had had a bunch of hits or no hits, you still have another game to come out to tomorrow. The good thing about baseball is those that have the ability to forget will be able to play for a very long time."

Granderson, who signed a four-year, $60-million free-agent deal in the offseason, struck out three times, the last to end the game after Wright's two-run home run in the 10th brought the Mets within two runs. In the eighth, Granderson hit a line drive to deep center that was caught by Denard Span.

The Mets had a 5-4 lead in the ninth, but closer Bobby Parnell couldn't hold it.

Granderson, who has watched firsthand how the great Mariano Rivera finished games, said: "There's no closer that's automatic. They swung the bats very well, especially late in the ballgame."

If Granderson had some new-team jitters, he didn't admit to them. "There were a lot of similarities," he said, referring to playing with the Yankees on Opening Day. "Similar buzz around town, not too many differences."

As for the loss, he said: "It doesn't matter how we ended up losing today's game. It's just disappointing."

Granderson was asked about Sandy Alderson's 90-victory prediction and said, "We're not necessarily going to be locked into a number," but added "I agree with the optimism he has with this organization."

While Granderson got off to a slow start, outfielders Andrew Brown and Juan Lagares made a quick impact. Brown's three-run homer off Stephen Strasburg gave the Mets a 3-0 lead in the first inning. Lagares homered in the eighth to give the Mets a 5-4 lead and would have been the hero if Parnell hadn't faltered.

"I couldn't have asked for it to go any better for a first at-bat," Brown said. "I'm ecstatic. I would have loved to have had some better at-bats after that."

Brown started in left when Eric Young Jr. was moved to second for Daniel Murphy, who is with his wife in Florida awaiting their first child.

Lagares started because of a right quadriceps injury to Chris Young and knows his hitting is being closely watched. "You have to play hard every time you have the opportunity," he said. "Everybody wants to be out there. Let's see what happens."

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