Seventh-Inning Woes Continue For Mets’ Chris Young
NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) — Chris Young seemed to be in complete control. He had allowed only two runners and took a two-run lead into the seventh inning against the slumping Philadelphia Phillies.
“There was nothing that dictated they were taking good swings. We just thought he was certainly in good shape,” Mets manager Terry Collins said.
“Seven pitches later, it’s 3-2,” he said.
Chase Utley and Carlos Ruiz hit consecutive homers that put the Phillies ahead, and Ty Wigginton homered to end a late burst Wednesday in a 9-2 win over the Mets. The surge was plenty for Cliff Lee to post his first victory of the season and helped Philadelphia stop a six-game losing streak.
“I’ve missed important pitches in the seventh inning that cost us games. I can’t worry if it’s the first, fourth, or 10th time through the order, I’ve still got to make good pitches,” Young said.
Young has given up a lead in the seventh inning in two of his last three starts — both losses. He blew a three-run lead to the Yankees during the frame in late June. Young was pulled in the seventh against the Dodgers last week but got the win.
Lee (1-5) had gone a puzzling 13 starts this year without a victory, a key reason the five-time NL East champions have fallen far behind. The lefty hadn’t been awful, nor had he consistently shown good command.
“I think you guys made a bigger deal out of it than I did,” said Lee. “I keep things simple. I try to give the team a chance to win every time. I would have loved a win a long time ago, but to me it wasn’t as big a deal as you guys wanted it to be.”
Facing the Mets for the fourth time this season, Lee came out sharp and struck out three of the first four batters. He wound up going eight innings and struck out nine, most of them looking.
“He pretty much dominated us today,” Mets star David Wright said.
Lee seemed as if he might wind up in the loss column again after the Phillies managed just two singles in the first six innings against Young (2-2). Juan Pierre led off the seventh with a sharp single and Utley followed with a tying drive into the right-field seats, his second homer since missing nearly three months because of knee trouble.
Ruiz, set to play in his first All-Star game, then put the Phillies ahead by connecting for the second straight day, hitting his 13th home run.
That was plenty for Lee on this afternoon.
“Once they took the lead, we saw a different side of him,” said Mets catcher Mike Nickeas, who fanned twice. “He’s one of the better ones in the game. He was tremendous today.”
Philadelphia pulled away with a three-run eighth and a three-run ninth against the Mets’ bullpen. Jimmy Rollins doubled home a run, Ruiz hit an RBI single and Wigginton hustled home from second on Hunter Pence’s single off shortstop Ruben Tejada’s glove in the eighth.
Rollins added an RBI grounder and Wigginton homered the next inning.
The six straight losses matched the Phillies’ longest slump of the season. They also had lost seven in a row on the road.
A day after routing Philadelphia, the Mets lost for the second time in seven games.
Scott Hairston put the Mets ahead with a solo homer in the fourth, lining an 0-2 pitch over the left-field wall. As Hairston rounded the bases, Lee scuffed at the dirt and looked out toward center field, where a replay of the pitch was playing on the videoboard.
The Mets, as they’ve done all season, strung together some two-hits and made it 2-0 in the fifth. Wright drove in the run with a single.
NOTES: RHP Jeremy Hefner gave up five hits and three runs in 1 1-3 innings and was optioned to Triple-A Buffalo after the game. … Utley’s sixth homer at Citi Field matched Raul Ibanez for the most by a visiting player at the ballpark. … Mets OF Kirk Nieuwenhuis didn’t play. He was a late scratch from the lineup the previous day after hurting his right hand while swinging in batting practice. He said his hand was feeling better. … Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey goes for his 11th straight win on Thursday night vs. LHP Cole Hamels. Dickey leads the majors with 12 victories.
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