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Mets bullpen fails again in loss to Marlins after seven shutout innings by Jon Niese
Daisuke Matsuzaka sat doubled over in his chair Monday night, staring straight into his locker.
In a few minutes, he'd make his way to a nearby laptop in a quiet Mets clubhouse, where he'd pore over the video of the meltdown he orchestrated in a crushing 4-3 loss to the Marlins.
But first the starter-turned-reliever answered for blowing a 3-0 lead in the eighth inning, which wasted seven shutout innings by starter Jonathon Niese and towering home runs by Daniel Murphy and Curtis Granderson.
"I really regret taking away Niese's win," Matsuzaka said through a translator. "And the team win."
In the ninth, Casey McGehee delivered the deciding blow, bouncing a comebacker off Gonzalez Germen for a walk-off single. The ball struck Germen and still was trickling into rightfield when the Marlins streamed onto the field to greet Christian Yelich, who scored the winning run after getting a single off lefty specialist Scott Rice.
But it was Matsuzaka who took center stage in another rough night for the bullpen. Until then, most everything had gone according to plan for the Mets.
They had smashed two upper-deck home runs against Marlins righthander Nathan Eovaldi, one of the hardest throwers in baseball. They received a dominant effort from Niese, who lowered his ERA to 1.82, the fifth lowest for a starter in the National League.
In the fourth, Bobby Abreu lifted a sacrifice fly to drive in David Wright, giving the Mets a 3-0 lead.
But the Mets paid the price for not tacking on runs against Eovaldi, who set a career high with 10 strikeouts.
"We didn't have many opportunities," manager Terry Collins said. "Outside of the first inning, Eovaldi pitched well."
When Matsuzaka inherited the lead in the eighth, he promptly gave it away.
Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton hammered a comebacker that buzzed Matsuzaka's head on the way to centerfield. The hit cut the Mets' lead to 3-1 and came after he walked Yelich and Ed Lucas to start the inning.
Shortstop Omar Quintanilla let McGehee's low liner go off his glove for an error, allowing Lucas to score to make it 3-2. "It knuckled a little bit," Quintanilla said. "But I take the blame for it. I still should have caught it."
Collins elected to keep Matsuzaka in the game, a decision that proved costly when Jarrod Saltalamacchia doubled to the gap in right-center to drive in Stanton with the tying run.
Matsuzaka had a 1.74 ERA in seven previous relief outings. In the eighth, however, he retired none of the five batters he faced.
"Command was off," Collins said. "I've got all the confidence in the world he's going to throw strikes. Tonight, the first two base on balls set up the middle of that lineup. And you don't want to have that happen."
Kyle Farnsworth restored order. Entering with runners on second and third and none out, he induced a groundout, intentionally walked Garrett Jones, then got a strikeout and a groundout to end the inning with the score still tied.
But the damage already had been done.
"When I was warming up in the bullpen, I was struggling with my command," Matsuzaka said. "Going into the game, I just tried to focus on getting on the batter and getting outs. But I couldn't control my body well today."