For the first six innings of the Mets' Independence Day game against the Phillies, it looked like a couple of runs just might be enough to defeat the National League East's last-place team. Unfortunately, Chris Young gave up three runs on a pair of back-to-back home runs by Chase Utley and Carlos Ruiz in the seventh inning, and things got much worse after that.
Cliff Lee pitched very well this afternoon, but the Mets got on the board first with a solo home run by Scott Hairston in the fourth inning. It was a laser beam into the left field seats that, at least temporarily, made Lee look like just another left-handed pitcher to Hairston.
The Mets added another run in the fifth inning on an opposite-field bloop off the bat of David Wright with two outs and runners on the corners. But that was the end of the Mets' offensive production for the day.
All in all, Chris Young's start was not that bad. He wound up throwing seven innings with three strikeouts, no walks, and three runs allowed. That didn't make the seventh inning sting any less, though, as Juan Pierre led off with a single before Utley and Ruiz hit the aforementioned home runs to give Philadelphia the lead.
Down one run entering the bottom of the seventh, the game was still within reach, even against Lee. Down four runs one inning later was a completely different story.
Miguel Batista came into the game to begin the eighth inning and allowed a hard single to John Mayberry, who is typically awful against right-handed pitching. That was it for Batista, and Tim Byrdak came in with Cliff lee at the plate. Lee successfully bunted Mayberry to second, but Jimmy Rollins, who has struggled from the right side of the plate this year, roped a ground rule double over Andres Torres's head in center field to put the Phillies ahead 4-2.
The Phillies sent Ty Wigginton up to pinch hit for Pierre next, and the Mets countered with an intentional walk. Chase Utley then hit a soft line drive to shallow center field, which was caught by Torres. He had the opportunity to double Rollins off at second base, but he took a few steps as he threw and didn't quite get the ball there in time.
With more right-handed hitters coming up, Terry Collins turned to Jeremy Hefner. Carlos Ruiz singled to score another run, and Hunter Pence plated the Phillies' sixth run of the day on an infield single. Hefner stayed on for the ninth inning and gave up three more runs, the latter two of which scored on a home run by Wigginton.
The Mets weren't able to put together anything close to a threat against Lee in his last two innings of work, and by the time Jonathan Papelbon took the mound, the game was far, far out of reach.
The Mets, who are now 4.5 games behind the division-leading Nationals, will attempt to take the rubber game of the series tomorrow night at 7:10 pm. Best Pitcher on the Planet R.A. Dickey takes the mound for the Mets, and Embarrassing Photos star Cole Hamels will pitch for the Phillies.
Big winners: Scott Hairston, +7.7% WPA
Big losers: Chris Young, 13.5% WPA, Jeremy Hefner, -10.5% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Scott Hairston's solo home run in the fourth, +13.9% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Chase Utley's game-tying, two-run home run in the seventh, -26.7% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: -35.3% WPA
Total batter WPA: -14.4% WPA
GWRBI!: Carlos Ruiz