Mets Looking Ahead in 5-1 Loss to the Marlins

In a steady, but light Miami rain, in front of a sparse Triple-A like crowd, the Mets played uninspired ball and lost 5-1 to the Marlins on Thursday night. The Mets managed just four singles against a soft-tossing southpaw named Tommy Phelps and looked ill suited to face the rival Yankees in their annual interleague series this weekend at Shea.

A win tonight would have been the Mets seventh on their 10-game road trip. Instead, they let Phelps beat them with an assortment of changeups, curve balls and an occasional well-spotted, low eighties fast ball. Phelps has been a career minor leaguer, but he pitched like a veteran or like that other Florida rookie who shut the Mets down two nights ago, Dontrelle Willis.

Mike Bascik, in his second start after being recalled from Triple-A, gave up all 5 runs including a 3-run home run to Mike Lowell in the fourth and an enormous upper deck blast from shortstop Alex Gonzalez in the fifth. Bascik had beaten the Marlins his previous 3 starts including a complete game in 2002. Lowell is now tied for the Major League lead after thumping his 22nd of the year. It was his only hit of the series, but he made it matter.

The Mets never threatened in the game. Their only run came in the eighth when rookie Jose Reyes, who hit leadoff tonight, reached on a throwing error and scored from second on Roberto Alomar's single to right.

The Mets ended their road trip with a very respectable 6-4 record and enter the Yankees series with a little bit of life. But the Mets must hope that tonight's dispiriting display was just an aberration in an otherwise renewed season.

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