Bullpen lets lead slip away on Collins' birthday

Bullpen lets lead slip away on Collins' birthday

PITTSBURGH -- Somebody wished Terry Collins a happy birthday after Saturday night's game. Seated in an office inside the visiting team's clubhouse at PNC Park, the manager of the New York Mets slumped back in a chair.

"A beauty," grumbled Collins, who turned 68 Saturday. "One I'll forget about."

Collins has endured more than a few such beauties during the Mets' injury-marred, challenging season. It seems unlikely his memory has let go of any. The latest was a 5-4 loss to the Pirates in 10 innings, a game in which the Mets got a solid effort from starter Zack Wheeler, some nifty defense and solo homers from Jay Bruce, Travis d'Arnaud and Lucas Duda.

Wheeler strikes out Harrison

But the bullpen intervened, another frequent occurrence, and that's when things turned sour. Veteran Addison Reed blew a save in the ninth and rookie Tyler Pill, making his Major League debut, put the eventual winning run on base before John Jaso, with one hit in his last 30 at-bats against left-handers, singled off lefty Josh Edgin with two out in the 10th.

Wheeler pitched six innings, giving up three runs on seven hits. He struck out five and walked two, throwing 94 pitches. He said he could go another iinning, but Collins thought otherwise.

Going into the seventh, "I felt great," Collins said. "Zack got a blister on his finger, he said it wasn't really bothering him, but it looked pretty bad. I said, 'Hey, we just got to get six outs to get the ball to Addison, so I felt great.

"We got out of the seventh, we got out of the eighth and we gave the ball to Addison Reed. We were right where we wanted. ... I got the ball to the guy I wanted to get it to. We wanted outs, we didn't get 'em. It's just one of those things."

With the Mets up, 4-3, Reed got Francisco Cervelli to fly out leading off, but Jordy Mercer doubled. After a wild pitch, Jaso singled to score pinch-runner Gift Ngoepe from third with the tying run.

Jaso's game-tying RBI single

Coming off a shaky outing Wednesday, Reed said he was leaving the ball up in the strike zone. Then he vented.

"This is unacceptable," he said. "This is not how I am expecting to throw the ball. This is not what I'm getting paid for. The way I'm throwing the ball right now is absolutely unacceptable. There's no other words for it. All I can do is prepare and get ready for tomorrow, and hopefully I'm in the game tomorrow."

Pill, a 26-year-old right-hander who was called up from Triple-A Las Vegas on Friday, came in for the 10th in a tie game on the road. A tough debut? Sure.

"They had all those righties coming up, so I said, 'Hey, if this guy's in the big leagues, you've got to get out on the mound and pitch,'" Collins said.

"I think I would rather have something like that," said Pill, who gave up a single to David Freese, hit Andrew McCutchen and walked Cervelli to load the bases. He retired Ngoepe on a fly ball before Edgin came in to be greeted by Jaso's single.

"I think I'd rather have something like that. A lot of people here, a tough situation. I like that. I enjoy that atmosphere. ... There was definitely adrenaline."

Yet it still was another loss, as the Mets fell to seven games below .500.

"I'm out of explanations," Collins said, wearily.

Bob Cohn is a contributor to MLB.com based in Pittsburgh. He covered the Mets on Saturday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.