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Pelfrey can't extend Mets' win streak

Pelfrey can't extend Mets' win streak

NEW YORK -- At some point, this offense was going to stop hitting. At some point, Mike Pelfrey was going to stop winning. And at some point, the Mets were going to stop streaking.

They just didn't expect it all to happen on the same day.

A perfect storm of futility hit the Mets on Saturday, halting their winning streak at a season-high eight games. Blame the offense, blame Pelfrey or blame anyone else. There is no right answer. Just like in Friday's series-opening victory, this 5-3 loss to the Yankees was a team effort.

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"I wish I would have been able to keep it going," Pelfrey said. "They gave me a lead, I gave it right back. They gave me another lead, I gave it right back. That's disappointing."

Coming into the game, Pelfrey had maintained the remarkable statistic of never losing a lead all season. But that lasted only until the first inning, until Jose Reyes hit the first of his two home runs and the Yankees responded with a run of their own.

Two innings later, Reyes hit a two-run shot over the right-field wall, giving the Mets a two-run cushion. But Pelfrey gave it right back in the bottom of the inning on a two-run home run to Mark Teixeira.

Pelfrey then made his next and final mistake, this one unprompted: He served up another two-run homer to Curtis Granderson, capping the afternoon's scoring.

"On any given day, people are human," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "Some days they're not going to be sharp as others. As good as Pelfrey has been, we hit two homers off him."

Against Phil Hughes, Pelfrey's mirror image in this baseball town, the Mets fell silent from innings four through seven, mustering few opportunities. And so Pelfrey lost for the second time this season and the first time in nine starts.

"He is still a young pitcher who, over the course of a season and in his career, will hit small bumps," Mets manager Jerry Manuel said. "He just has to look back on them and get better."

It was Manuel, in a similar speech, who predicted several weeks ago that the Mets would go on another long winning streak -- and that when they did, they would sustain their level of play. The Mets would, Manuel said, remain consistent -- if not hot -- for the remainder of the season.

And so Saturday afternoon, taken in context, offered a challenge to the Mets. Their eight-game winning streak is now complete. And another game looms in the Bronx, before sets of three each against the Tigers and Twins.

Against those playoff contenders, the Mets cannot slip and lose four of their next five, as they did following their initial eight-game winning streak in April. Nor do they believe they will. This team, for now, remains intoxicated by its recent success.

"It's a better feeling for us," Reyes said, "even though we lost this game."

The Mets had their chances in this one thanks to Pelfrey, who gutted out three additional innings after Granderson's homer; thanks to Ryota Igarashi, who put two men in scoring position with no outs in the eighth but emerged unscathed; and thanks to Angel Pagan, who fought through a stomach virus to reach base three times.

That they did not convert those chances into victory is no knock on the Mets. It's simply an acknowledgment that no team can win with infallible consistency.

"Nobody's perfect," Pelfrey said. "I think we all make mistakes. I made a couple of mistakes today, and they made me pay for it."

Stemming from poor fastball command, Pelfrey's errors came in large part because he allowed the leadoff hitter to reach base in five of his first six innings. Against the defending World Series champions, that much almost guarantees a bitter end.

But the Mets will emerge on Sunday with Johan Santana on the mound, with a rejuvenated Reyes in the lineup, with Pagan feeling better and with Pelfrey -- who vowed to discard this loss as soon as he left Yankee Stadium -- raring to pitch again in five days.

The Mets are a more complete team than they were in April, presumably more capable of weathering defeat.

Either way, the next week will reveal much about them.

"Hopefully now," Pelfrey said, speaking for all of his teammates, "I can work on another streak."

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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