Once again, the middle of the Mets lineup let them down with runners on base, and Arizona managed to pull out a 2-1 victory with the aid of a ninth-inning error by Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy Sunday on a sunlit afternoon at Citi Field.
Mets new closer Jenrry Mejia came on in the ninth with the game tied at 1 and gave up a leadoff double to A.J. Pollock, who then went to third on a ground out. Mejia struck out pinch-hitter Martin Prado for the second out. After issuing an intentional walk to Gerardo Parra, Mejia got Chris Owings to hit a hard grounder to third baseman David Wright, whose relay was dropped for an error by Murphy, allowing Pollock to score the winning run.
The Mets got one-out singles from Juan Centeno and pinch-hitter Wilmer Flores in the bottom of the ninth. But Juan Lagares struck out, and Murphy flew out to left to end the game, giving the Mets a total of 10 men left on base plus another five wiped out on double plays.
Manager Terry Collins before the game described starter Rafael Montero as a "strikeout machine," but added, "We haven't seen it." He said the key was for Montero to do a better job of keeping the ball around the plate.
Unfortunately for Montero (0-2), he threw a 92 miles per hour fastball up over the plate to the second batter he faced, and the Diamondbacks Chris Owings launched a fly ball that just sneaked over the wall inside the leftfield foul pole for an early 1-0 lead. But Montero responded with strikeouts of Paul Goldschmidt and Miguel Montero to get out of the inning.
That proved to be a tone-setter. Montero allowed only one other hit, a third-inning single to Goldschmidt, and struck out 10 with three walks before giving way at the end of the sixth inning after throwing 113 pitches. He became the fourth Mets pitcher to record a double-digit strikeout game in his first three starts. The last was Matt Harvey a year ago.
But Montero left with the game tied at 1 thanks to a lack of run support from the middle of the Mets' lineup. They began the game with three straight singles off Bronson Arroyo with leadoff man Juan Lagares scoring on the hit that extended David Wright's hitting streak to eight games.
That inning ended in lame fashion when Curtis Granderson struck out, Chris Young fouled out and Lucas Duda ground out on a weak dribbler in front of home plate. Arroyo then proceeded to escape one jam after another with a combination of his off-speed pitches and four double plays, including three that ended innings. Young hit into two double plays and stranded four baserunners in his first three at-bats.
Jeurys Familia relieved Montero to start the seventh for the Mets and promptly gave up a leadoff double to Eric Chavez, who advanced to third on a hit-and-run groundout. Familia escaped that predicament by striking out Alfredo Marte and pinch-hitter Cody Ross. In the eighth, Mets reliever Jose Valverde got into a two-out, bases-loaded jam but got out of it when Eric Chavez flied out to center.
The Mets had a golden scoring opportunity in the bottom of the eighth when Daniel Murphy led off with a single, and David Wright walked and advanced to third on a line drive to right by Granderson. Pinch-hitter Bobby Abreu walked to load the bases for Duda, who proceded to ground weakly to first baseman Goldschmidt who threw home for the second out and then caught the return throw at first to complete the Diamondbacks' fifth double play.
That left the game tied at one before Arizona managed to push across the winning run in the top of the ninth.