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Mets fall in five to Phillies, rain

Mets fall in five to Phillies, rain

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PHILADELPHIA -- Xavier Nady would have been within his rights if he had begun adding the RBIs to his account right then and there -- "Cha-ching, cha-ching, cha-ching." He had crushed a 3-2 fastball with the bases loaded. He had seen the trajectory as he took his first step toward first base, and he knew he had put the best part of his bat on it. And, with two outs, he knew his three teammates would run all the way home. A 3-0 Mets lead was a few moments away.

But Nady was batting in the sixth spot in the Mets' batting order on Thursday night, the cursed sixth spot that has been Cliff Floyd's address for most of the Mets' first 33 games. And, evidently, the man batting sixth for the Mets isn't allowed to drive in runs this season. Or so it seems.

"I know," Floyd said hours later. "I've got it so messed up, nobody has any luck hitting there."

So it was that Nady's drive never reached the wall, and none of his on-base teammates ever reached the plate. The would-be three-run triple was intercepted -- spectacularly, perilously, even incomparably -- by Phillies center fielder Aaron Rowand. The 3-0 Mets lead never happened.

Instead, the final game of the three-game series between the first- and second-place teams in the National League East ended with the Phillies winning, 2-0, with Nady wanting and with Floyd wondering.

The Mets and Phillies played merely 4 1/2 innings before the stormfront that had caused postponements in Chicago, Pittsburgh and Baltimore reached Citizens Bank Park. And they would play no more. The rain became a topic of clubhouse conversation during the protracted delay that created clubhouse consternation. But when the game was called -- after one hour, 37 minutes of baseball and a delay of identical duration -- the talk was of Rowand and the stunning catch he had made.

He had chased the ball, starting in left-center and sprinting back and toward right-center. He had made the catch, running full bore and crashing into the chain-link fence that separates the bullpens from the warning track. He had broken his nose and the Mets' back.

In one play, Rowand put his body on the line and his name on the Philadelphia map and in the list of Phillies center fielders who have made a difference -- Richie Ashburn, Garry Maddox, Lenny Dykstra.

"They'll love him here now," Phillies advisor John Vukovich said. "He's a hero now."

Rowand hadn't won the game; no defensive play in the first inning can have that effect. But, in the end, he had prevented the Phillies from losing. And he had won the Mets' admiration.

"You tip your hat to a guy who plays like that," fellow center fielder Carlos Beltran said. "He saved the game for them. It was a great play."

"The best play I ever seen in person," said Mets pitcher Steve Trachsel.

Trachsel would have been the beneficiary of the three runs that would have scored had Rowand considered personal safety. Instead, he was left to marvel at what he had witnessed and lament what he had endured.

"But you can't pitch against the rain," he said.

The Phillies scored once against him in the first inning on a home run by Chase Utley and once in the fourth on a single by David Bell. But the Mets, in five turns against Gavin Floyd, put six runners on base and little more. So they were shut out for the first time -- albeit in an abridged game.

Trachsel, who allowed six hits and two walks, took his third loss in five decisions. Floyd, who walked four and allowed two hits -- and almost a third -- has a 4-2 record and a debt of gratitude to his regular center fielder and perhaps another being.

The game became official at 8:54 p.m. ET when Floyd struck out Beltran for the third out of the Mets' fifth. An instant later, the rain increased dramatically, making a resumption quite unlikely.

"We have guys who take care of things like this for us," said Dallas Green, the former Mets manager and now, again, a Phillies advisor.

"What can you do?" Mets manager Willie Randolph said. "We knew it was going to rain. We thought we might be able to beat it. Another two innings, maybe we score. Who knows?"

Paul Lo Duca, the Mets' off-for-the-night catcher, suggested Trachsel drag his feet in the bottom of the fourth.

"We knew it was supposed to start spitting around nine o'clock," Lo Duca said. "We could've asked them to have the mound fixed -- it was getting sloppy -- or just throw over to first."

Trachsel has been known to impede the progress games anyway -- without trying.

The game could have died from natural causes.

Marty Noble 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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