New York entered the weekend series three games ahead of Philadelphia in the National League East and left with a five-game lead. But the Mets couldn't solve Phillies rookie right-hander Kyle Kendrick, who remained undefeated at 3-0 this season with the victory.
Mike Pelfrey took the loss, setting him back to 0-6. The 0-6 start puts Pelfrey with some interesting company, joining reliever John Franco, who in 1998 was the last Mets pitcher to lose his first six-plus decisions in one season (finishing 0-8), and starter Anthony Young, who in '93 lost his first six-plus decisions in one season (finished 0-16).
Pelfrey deserved a little better. The Mets committed two errors behind him, one leading to an unearned run. Otherwise, Pelfrey did a credible in keeping the Mets in the game.
"I thought he did a pretty good job," Mets manager Willie Randolph said of Pelfrey's five-inning outing in which he gave up four hits and three runs, two earned. "He wasn't real sharp when he had to be, and we had their kid reeling a little bit."
But Kendrick always seemed to manage a way to squirm out of it. Three double plays helped his cause, one each in the first, third and fifth. Kendrick didn't have anything particularly overpowering, but he changed speeds, keeping the Mets' offense off balance.
"Kendrick mixed it up well and he has some movement," Shawn Green said. "You have to stay up the middle with me, but I think what we got in trouble with was trying to pull the ball too much against him."
At the outset, the hospitality the Mets were receiving this season at Citizen Bank Park didn't seem as if it would stop. The Mets entered Sunday's game with a 4-0 record at Philadelphia's cozy, little park and got off to a nice start in the first inning, when Paul Lo Duca's single to left-center drove home Jose Reyes, who led off the game with a single and stole second.
But from there, Kendrick put the clamps on the Mets' offense.
"He has a sinker that was just below the strike zone, and if you have movement and you throw strikes, which he did, that's going to be effective," said Carlos Delgado, who managed to get to Kendrick in the fourth, slamming the first pitch of the inning into the right-field stands to draw the Mets to within 3-2. Delgado later scored in the ninth on Ruben Gotay's single up the middle.
Pelfrey, meanwhile, started well, retiring the first five batters he faced. That changed after a four-pitch walk to Pat Burrell in the second, followed by a double from Greg Dobbs to deep right that scored Burrell from first.
The Mets had some defensive lapses in the third, enabling the Phillies to score an unearned run and take a 3-1 lead. Kendrick reached first on David Wright's throwing error, and then Jimmy Rollins made the miscue even more costly by driving a 2-0 Pelfrey pitch to deep right-center for his 14th homer and a 3-1 Philadelphia advantage.
The Phillies added to their lead in the seventh inning. After Aaron Heilman retired both Rollins and Michael Bourn swinging, he surrendered a two-out homer to Shane Victorino. Chase Utley followed with a triple down the right-field line, and Aaron Rowand scored him with a single up the middle, giving the Phillies a 5-2 lead.
In the Mets' ninth, Gotay singled home Delgado with two outs, but Antonio Alfonseca shut the door by getting pinch-hitter Julio Franco to ground out to end the game.
So there are two ways you can take this: Good or bad.
Wright chose both, saying, "If someone told me coming into this series that we would take three out of four, I would have been pleased, but after winning the first three, I wanted to be greedy and would have loved to have come out of today with a sweep."