NEW YORK– Once again the Mets had an opportunity to gain ground in the playoff race, and once again they lost a winnable game at home to the Marlins.

The Mets had one of the best rookie pitchers in baseball on the mound tonight, and the Mets were cruising both offensively and on the mound through the first three innings. 

After the first three innings of the game, the Mets had four runs and seven hits, and the Marlins had no hits.

For the second straight night, David Wright provided some offense. He hit a two-run home run in the first inning, his 21st of the season, giving the Mets a 2-0 lead.

Not only had Jon Niese not given up a hit through the first three innings, he struck out six to boot. He was looking like the phenomenal rookie he has been all season, overmatching hitters with his cutter.

The Mets though, although they were winning, lost the engine to their offense in the second. Jose Reyes singled, reaching out over the plate from the left side, and was pulled after a talk with manager Jerry Manuel and trainer Ray Ramirez.

He reaggravated his right obligue which kept him out in early July. He has been listed as day-to-day for the time being; Ruben Tejada ran for him and stayed in to play shortstop.

Angel Pagan followed with a double, scoring Luis Castillo who lead off with a walk, making it 3-0.

The Mets added another run in the third, but should’ve had much more. After two walks to start the inning, Jeff Francoeur singled in a run, extending the lead to 4-0.

With the bases loaded and two outs, Tejada seemed to have beat out an infield hit, but first base umpire Bill Miller called him out, costing the Mets a run. Tejada would go 0-for-2 with a walk, as he’s now one for his last 43.

After the four-run outburst against Marlins starter Anibal Sanchez, they never scored again.

In the fourth, Niese allowed a leadoff double, the Marlins first hit. The next batter, Hanley Ramirez, hit a scorching line drive of a home run over the left field fence, cutting the deficit to 4-2.

The Mets had chances in literally every inning of the game. They had at least one baserunner in each inning, and drew seven leadoff walks. In the fourth, Carlos Beltran hit into a double play to erase one of those walks, as the Mets failed to score their last five leadoff walks.

Although Niese walked a batter to start the fifth, he kept the game 4-2. In the Mets fifth, baserunning was what killed a potential rally. Francoeur lead off with a walk, but was thrown out at third base on a Josh Thole single to left.

The entire game came crashing down in the sixth. The Marlins sent 11 batters to the plate and scored seven runs. Niese hit the leadoff batter Logan Morrison, who reached base all five times in the game.

A Wes Helms sacrifice fly to deep right-center field tied the game at 4-4, although if it wasn’t for a Francoeur hustle catch, it could’ve been much worse. On the next play, Francoeur let a ball down the right field line bounce in fair territory for a ground-rule double off the bat of Brett Hayes, giving the Marlins a 5-4 lead.

Niese was pulled after that, giving up seven runs on five hits. He walked three, hit a batter, and tied a career-high in strikeouts with eight. The Marlins would add four more runs in the inning, to take a 9-4 lead.

Although the Mets kept drawing leadoff walks, they never drove one home, going on to lose the game, 11-4.

A night after falling one short of completing a four-run comeback, the Mets lose a game they once led by four runs. For the second straight day, the Mets fail to gain on the Phillies.

Now, the Mets will have to move forward to begin a weekend series with the Astros, not knowing when they’ll have their shortstop back.

They fall a game below .500 at 63-64 and will open up their series tomorrow night. Mike Pelfrey will be opposed by Nelson Figueroa.

NL East standings
Atlanta 73-54
Philadelphia 70-57 (3)
Florida 64-62 (8 1/2)
NY Mets 63-64 (10)

NL Wild Card (Leader and Mets)
San Francisco 71-57
NY Mets 63-64 (7 1/2)

Next series probable pitchers:
August 27
New York: Mike Pelfrey (2010: 12-7, 3.80 ERA) vs. Houston: Nelson Figueroa (2010: 1-0, 2.42 ERA)
August 28
New York: Johan Santana (2010: 10-8, 2.94 ERA) vs. Houston: Brett Myers (2010: 9-7, 3.08 ERA)
August 29
New York: R.A. Dickey (2010: 8-5, 2.64 ERA) vs. Houston: Bud Norris (2010: 6-7, 5.03 ERA)

Upcoming schedule:
New York Mets:
August 27-29 vs. Houston Astros
August 30-Sept. 2 @ Atlanta Braves

Houston Astros:
August 27-29 @ New York Mets
August 30-Sept. 1 vs. St. Louis Cardinals

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