Schoeneweis falters against Padres

Schoeneweis falters against Padres

SAN DIEG0 -- It hardly was a game the Mets could bemoan as "one we should have won" or "one that got away." They never had it in their grasp, so it wasn't taken from them as much as it was just taken. And at the same time, it wasn't a game they should have lost -- not as they did. "No one should lose a game that way," Billy Wagner said.

The ending didn't fit what had preceded it. Then again, there may never have been 8 1/2 innings that would have made this bottom of the ninth apropos. A generation ago, a similarly unsettled loss ate at a different Mets team and prompted Ray Knight to suggest, "The less you think about this one, the better." The same advice, if implemented, might have helped these Mets deal better with the 2-1 loss to the Padres they endured Thursday night.

There was little to be learned from this one. So let the healing begin. Turn the page and remember the morning will bring another San Diego day. It could have been worse, the Mets could have lost in an identical manner and awakened in Houston.

Bad enough they lost in the ninth when Scott Schoeneweis' 21st pitch -- and 14th ball -- struck Paul McAnulty with the bases loaded. Bad enough that they hadn't taken advantage of Jose Reyes' brilliant and comprehensive performance or the perseverance of Mike Pelfrey.

This once wasn't about effort or plays made and not made, but rather a sequence of what Schoeneweis called "unbelievable, unbelievable, unbelievable" and the funk that produced it. "Where does this come from?" he wanted to know. The origin remains unknown.

Reyes' splendid play and flawed but ultimately effective work by four other Mets pitchers were rendered meaningless by Schoeneweis' final act. Summoned to start the ninth inning, he essentially gave the struggling Padres a run and a victory. He walked his first two batters. The first, Scott Hairston, moved to first after falling behind, 0-2, in the count. The second, Brian Giles, a left-handed hitter, the kind Schoeneweis has handed well this season. An infield out advanced the runners and prompted Willie Randolph to have his pitcher intentionally walk Kevin Kouzmanoff.

Schoeneweis' next pitch was his last.

"You feel like you're in a vacuum when you walk of the field after that," Schoeneweis said.

He seemed more confused than miffed. He had not complained with the strike zone implemented by plate umpire Wally Bell.

"Nothing wrong there," he said. "But they took some very close pitches ... I don't know. The intentional walk. It gets you out of you rhythm. But I'm a professional, and that was the right move. But then it was awful."

And then it was over, the Mets' third loss in 10 games, their fifth in five one-run games away from Shea Stadium. Go figure.

"A walk-off hit-by-pitch," Schoeneweis said as he stared straight ahead. He was incredulous.

His poor performance had offset Reyes' brilliant night -- two hits, one walk, two stolen bases, one run and five splendid plays at shortstop -- and denied the Mets a victory against a team that left 15 runners on base.

"Sometimes the game can't be explained," Wagner said, his way of saying "The less you think about this one, the better."

The Mets had six baserunners to the Padres' 16. And they had lost by one run. "But they didn't deserve to win it either," Wagner said.

Pelfrey didn't deserve to win, not as generous as he was. He didn't pitch a clean inning in his six-inning workday. The Padres left eight runners on base in his innings, and one of the innings ended with a 6-6-3 double play.

When they did score, in the third, it was the opposing pitcher, rookie Josh Banks, who initiated the rally with a "Baltimore chop" single to third base that he barely beat out.

A single through the middle by Jody Gerut advanced the pitcher to third base, and he scored when Tadahito Iguchi doubled to left. Pelfrey then walked Giles to load the bases, but he retired Adrian Gonzalez on a fly ball to short right and Kouzmanoff on a slowly hit ball that Reyes handled after moving 10 feet to his left.

Reyes made a handsome play to end the fourth with a man on third base, executed the 6-6-3 double play in the fifth and dived to take a potential run-scoring hit away from pinch-hitter Tony Clark with a runner on second to end the sixth. Because of Reyes and a leaping catch in left by Endy Chavez in the second, Pelfrey departed, having allowed three walks and "only" eight hits. He struck out one.

"He was challenged and he showed something," Randolph said.

Pelfrey's performance was a marked improvement over his other road starts. He had produced an 0-2 record and 9.64 ERA in three other starts -- merely 14 innings -- away from Shea Stadium. "I have to look at it as progress," he said. "I think I battled, and I had great defense behind me."

Schoeneweis didn't. There is no defense for walks and a bases-loaded hit batsman.

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