Same Old Story

The Mets have mastered the secret of time travel. Suddenly, every night feels like 2003 at Shea Stadium.

The lineup that bombed out 25 runs in the opening series of the season is but a distant memory. Suddenly, even one-run deficits appear insurmountable for the scuffling Metropolitans.

That was certainly the case in Flushing Wednesday night, when the Mets put up their customary one run – as they've done in four of the last five contests – and were unable to supplement it further.

Indeed, trailing 2-1 in the ninth, it might as well have been a 23,565-run deficit: one run for every fan who came to Shea disguised as an empty seat.

There was little question that New York would put up a weak fight against closer Rocky Biddle. However, at manager Art Howe's urging, the Mets did work better counts against him: it took Biddle 12 pitches to finish the Mets off, six more than the night before.

"We just haven't scored," Howe said. "That's the bottom line."

For New York, the night was especially frustrating because they wasted a sterling pitching effort from Tom Glavine, who held the Expos to one earned run and five hits over 7.0 innings. It was the second time in two starts the Mets flushed Glavine's outing down the toilet – his last time out against Pittsburgh, Glavine took a one-hit shutout past the seventh inning only to watch New York's shaky bullpen blow it.

Sure feels like the reprise performance of 2003, doesn't it?

"You can't do that," Glavine said. "You can't just go through every game waiting for something like that to happen. We can't go through that ‘Here we go again' stuff."

Though normally sure-handed outfielder Mike Cameron committed an error that led to Montreal's second run, New York's baserunning was the true culprit tonight.

The Mets have been pulling teeth to score -- dating back to Saturday, the Mets have averaged just 1.5 runs per game, a span of 44.0 innings – and desperately waved two runners around third in an effort to nix that trend.

Juan Rivera nailed Mike Piazza in the second and Karim Garcia was called out in a collision with catcher Brian Schneider in the eighth.

"It's not very often you're going to get two runners thrown out at the plate," Howe said.

Though the Mets were "stretching the envelope," as Howe said, the end result was still the same: a loss to a punchless Montreal Expos club that featured No. 7 and No. 8 hitters hitting .037 and .071 entering the game (Terrmel Sledge and Ron Calloway, respectively).

Both players naturally went hitless, but Montreal – who entered the series with a seven-game losing streak – went back to the team hotel with their second win of the series on the strength of an Orlando Cabrera single and a Jose Vidro sacrifice fly.

Not exactly the second coming of the '27 Yankees, but hey, these days it doesn't seem to take much to trump the Mets.

"We've had opportunities," Cameron said. "It's especially tough because we've had opportunities to win those ballgames. We haven't been beat bad.

"We just haven't been playing good baseball."

Notes: Mets RF Karim Garcia extended his hitting streak to seven games with a double in the eighth inning. During the streak, Garcia is hitting .292 (7-for-24) with two runs scored, two doubles, a home run and two RBI. … the Mets are now 1-5 in one-run games. Montreal is 4-3.

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