New York couldn't scrape out a run against Halsey, a 24-year-old former Yankee, over seven shutout innings, dropping the first game of a 12-game homestand.
Kris Benson (3-2) suffered his second loss of the season, allowing four runs and eight hits in six innings. The Mets wasted a three-hit performance from Jose Reyes, as the No. 3, 4 and 5 hitters in the Mets order – Carlos Beltran (making his first start since two Saturdays ago against the Yankees), Mike Piazza and Cliff Floyd – left a combined 11 men on base in the defeat.
ON SECOND THOUGHT: The long wait back to the lineup ended on Sunday for Kaz Matsui, who struggled to crack back into action after suffering a strained neck but was finally given a nod in Miami against the Marlins.
The wait may be beginning again. Given a flight home to New York and a day off to think about the situation, manager Willie Randolph apparently reversed field, selecting Miguel Cairo to start at second base Tuesday even though Matsui was obviously well enough to play two days prior.
"Miguel is giving us a lot of energy right now and is playing well, and I'll use my players on how I feel," Randolph told reporters.
"If you want to get technical about whether (Matsui) is my second baseman, yes, he's my second baseman. But having said that, I'm still going to play who I think is going to help us win the game."
Including Tuesday's 2-for-3 performance, Cairo has run a hitting streak to nine games and raised his average from .245 to .306 since getting a taste of regular duty, giving Randolph absolutely no reason to continue to watch Matsui.
ON THE WAY BACK: Catcher Ramon Castro is expected to return from his quadriceps strain on Thursday. That probably means Mike DiFelice's run with the Mets is nearing an end, at least for now – DiFelice, a 36-year-old veteran, got into six games as Mike Piazza's backup, going 0-for-8 with two strikeouts.
Minor League Report
TRIPLE-A NORFOLK: Eric Junge (4-4) was roughed up for four runs and eight hits – including a solo home run by former Met Roberto Petagine – in five innings as the Tides fell at Pawtucket, 4-1. Designated hitter Angel Pagan contributed a 2-for-5 night in the loss, which dropped division-leading Norfolk to 29-24, five games ahead of Durham.
DOUBLE-A BINGHAMTON: The B-Mets continued a strong homestand Tuesday with a solid 6-2 win over visiting Akron. Spot starter Bryan Edwards ventured into the fifth inning and Anderson Hernandez continued his hot hitting with a 3-for-5 showing, including a double and two runs scored. Buoyed by their four-game sweep of the Trenton Thunder over the weekend, the B-Mets now find themselves at 26-22, just one-game behind division-leading Portland and New Hampshire.
HIGH-A ST. LUCIE: St. Lucie had the day off after a 4-3 win Sunday over visiting Clearwater. The Mets are 20-31, 9-1/2 games behind division-leading Vero Beach.
LOW-A HAGERSTOWN: Blake Eager was reached for four runs (three earned) and seven hits in four innings as the Suns fell to visiting Lakewood Tuesday, 8-4. Kevin Mannix allowed four more runs in a three-inning relief stint, making Mike Carp's solo homer in the second inning (his 12th) the lone Suns bright spot. Division-leading Hagerstown fell to 32-19, just one game up on Lexington.
Victor Zambrano (2-5, 4.74) gets another shot to turn around his underwhelming season on Wednesday, when the Mets play the middle game of a three-game set with the Diamondbacks.
Last Wednesday, Zambrano took the loss in a six-inning effort against the Atlanta Braves, allowing all three runs (one earned) in a 3-0 defeat. Brandon Webb (6-1, 3.39) provides the challenge from the surprising D-Backs, looking to rebound from his first defeat last Thursday against the San Diego Padres. First pitch is 7:10 p.m.
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