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Mets' walk-off loss a tale of good, bad

Mets fall on walk-off homer in 13th

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LOS ANGELES -- The Mets' loss to the Dodgers on Saturday was, to paraphrase Charles Dickens, a tale of two stories. The first story was the club's continued batting slump and inability to drive in runs, especially in late and extra innings.

After Oliver Perez helped the Mets dart out of a no-out, runner-on-third situation in the 12th, the lefty was unable to preserve the tie in the 13th, allowing a James Loney walk-off homer for a 3-2 Dodgers victory and adding another chapter to the team's woeful offensive performance of late.

Since the All-Star break, the Mets are 2-8, having been shut out twice and scoring two runs in four of the other outings.

Manager Jerry Manuel was at a loss to explain the lack of offense, merely saying, "It's just one of those funks that we're in, and you have to figure out how to get out of it."

Part of the problem in figuring a way to get out of it is that Manuel doesn't know exactly what the Mets are doing to be in it.

"I'm not sure if it's a matter of what they are doing to us or what we're not doing," Manuel said, adding the obvious, "We have to find a way to score some runs."

Manuel was especially concerned about the late and extra innings. After scoring two runs in the sixth to tie the score, New York managed just two walks and no hits over its next 24 at-bats

"We went down too easily in those innings," Manuel observed. "I'm not sure if we're trying to hit it out of the park or what we're trying to do, but it's definitely something we have to address."

This brings up the question of how to address a club where no one is hitting at all. The only idea Manuel has at this time is just to talk to everyone and see if there is something in the way the batters are thinking.

"We'll have to sit down individually and go over the thought process, and see if we can find anything to the approach. It's about all you can do," said an exasperated Manuel.

As for the second storyline, that one is a bit more optimistic, and it's the pitching of starter Mike Pelfrey. For the first three months of the season, Pelfrey was showing what everyone had long believed, that he had the stuff to be a front-of-the-rotation-type pitcher.

Over the last four games, however, Pelfrey pitched at a historic level, and that's not a good thing. In those four games, not only was Pelfrey 0-3 with a 12.89 ERA in 14 2/3 innings, but he became the first National League pitcher since 1900 to allow more than 50 baserunners while recording 50 or fewer outs over a four-start span.

The question then became, which Pelfrey was the real one: the 10-2 ace or 0-3 starter who allowed baserunners at near-historic proportions. For the Mets faithful, while Pelfrey didn't pick up the win Saturday, he did give them hope that the first-half Pelfrey was back. Of course, it didn't look like that at the start of the game.

Continuing on the 50-baserunners and only 44-outs pace, Pelfrey gave up a leadoff single to Rafael Furcal, and then threw the ball away on a pick-off attempt, allowing Furcal to go from first to third and then later score on a Xavier Paul sacrifice fly. Matt Kemp and Loney then followed with singles and it looked as if Pelfrey wouldn't even make it out of the first.

"Last nine starts, I've given up a run in the first inning and I need to find a way of stopping that," Pelfrey said, "whether it's throwing more pitches in the 'pen, I don't know."

After those first four batters, however, first-half Pelfrey showed up again, getting the next two batters to ground out, ending the threat. Pelfrey retired eight of nine batters before he ran into any trouble again -- a leadoff triple by Blake DeWitt in the fourth.

DeWitt would score to put the Dodgers up by two, but after that, Pelfrey retired the next five batters.

"I thought it was a big step forward," Pelfrey said, pleased with his performance if not the game's outcome.

"I was using the fastball, being aggressive. Obviously, I would have like to have gone deeper in the game, but that situation came up where they needed to pinch-hit for me."

That situation goes back to the problem with hitting and Manuel having to take extreme measures.

"We were in a tight game and felt we had to do something offensively," said Manuel. "It becomes alarming when you have to do those things in the fifth and sixth innings."

As for Pelfrey's performance, Manuel had no frustrations at all.

"He threw more fastballs, I was happy to see that," Manuel said. "It made his secondary pitches better. He did well."

For Pelfrey, it's now a matter of figuring out how to do better in the first inning. For Manuel, it's a matter of figuring out how to get the batters to do better in every inning.

"We didn't mount anything. Didn't even have a scare," Manuel said. "I think we're better than that, we just have to figure out how to get it done."

Glenn Rabney is a contributor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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