No love for Mets

New York Mets Notes and Quotes for Thursday, June 23: The Mets' losing ways continue down I-95 in Philadelphia; Mike Cameron returns to the leadoff spot; Lastings Milledge and Yusmeiro Petit selected for the MLB Futures All-Star Game...

After a one-night respite, earning a much-needed victory on Tuesday against the Philadelphia Phillies, the Mets fell back into their losing ways with a 8-4 loss at Citizens Bank Park Wednesday.

The Mets have now lost 10 of 14 and are finding new lows on a road trip that concludes its Philadelphia portion Thursday afternoon. The red-hot Yankees lie ahead for a three-game series in the Bronx over the weekend.

Royce Ring picked up the loss in relief of Victor Zambrano, starting what would be a six-run seventh inning for Philadelphia, but most of the damage was actually completed against long reliever Aaron Heilman. Ring struck out Bobby Abreu to open the inning but then walked Jim Thome, yielding the pitching duties to Heilman, who promptly hit Pat Burrell and later threw a run-scoring wild pitch.

Run-scoring hits by Chase Utley, Mike Lieberthal and a three-run double by Kenny Lofton (off lefty Dae-Sung Koo) highlighted the inning for Philadelphia.

Cliff Floyd and Mike Piazza homered for New York, which is three games under .500 at 34-37 and 7.5 games behind the division-leading Washington Nationals.

Notes & Quotes

Cameron back in the swing: Mike Cameron returned to the Mets lineup on Wednesday after missing seven games, including a detour back to New York to have fluid drained from his swollen right knee.

He reported that his quadriceps still felt tender, and went 0-for-4 out of the leadoff spot, striking out once.

In the future: The Mets' two top organizational prospects will represent the club at the Futures All-Star Game in Detroit on July 10, with St. Lucie outfielder Lastings Milledge and Binghamton pitcher Yusmeiro Petit joining the festivities.

Last year, the Mets were represented by Petit and David Wright, who had not yet been promoted from Triple-A Norfolk.

In related news, Norfolk pitcher Juan Padilla, who is 3-1 with a 1.29 ERA and six saves this season, was selected for the Triple-A All-Star Game on July 13 in Sacramento, Calif.

Minor League Report

TRIPLE-A NORFOLK: Buffalo put up a six-run fifth inning against starter Neal Musser (4.0 IP, 2 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 3 K) and Tim Lavigne en route to a 7-4 win over the Norfolk Tides on Wednesday. Prentice Redman homered and had two hits, while Chris Basak contributed another pair of hits for the Tides (40-34), who lead Durham by seven games in the International League South. In oth

DOUBLE-A BINGHAMTON: Brian Bannister (7.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 6 K) improved to 9-1 on the season, lowering his ERA to an eye-catching 1.73 as the Binghamton Mets topped New Britain Wednesday, 3-1. All three of the B-Mets' runs came on two-out RBI. Binghamton (34-34) trails Portland by four games in the Eastern League Northern Division.

HIGH-A ST. LUCIE: St. Lucie rolled to their fourth straight series sweep at home on Wednesday behind a standout pitching performance by starter Evan MacLane (8.1 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 10 K), leaving with one out in the ninth inning of a 6-0 victory. The Mets rapped five doubles in the game and Brett Harper racked up his 53rd RBI of the season for St. Lucie, who are 2-0 in the Florida State League's second half.

LOW-A HAGERSTOWN: Jose Sanchez (5.0 IP, 9 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 1 HR) was charged with his third loss as the Suns fell at Lakewood, 7-5. Ryan Coultas went 3-for-4 with two runs scored for Hagerstown (1-1), which has just started their season's second half. They have a one-game playoff for the first half title with Lexington on Saturday.

SHORT-SEASON BROOKLYN: Edgar Alfonzo (3.0 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 2 K) was touched for three runs in three innings of relief, sending the Cyclones to a 5-2 defeat on Wednesday, their first loss under manager Mookie Wilson. Centerfielder Gregory Gonzalez had two hits and Jon Malo had a pair of runs batted in for the Cyclones (1-1).

ROOKIE-LEAGUE KINGSPORT: Jusef Frias (5.0 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 K) was a tough-luck loser in his first outing of the season, as Kingsport fell to visiting Johnson City, 2-1. Sean Henry clubbed his first homer for the K-Mets, who are 1-1 to open their season.

On Deck

Kazuhisa Ishii (1-6, 5.40) faces former Met Cory Lidle (6-5, 4.02) in a Thursday afternoon matinee at Citizens Bank Park, attempting to show that he deserves to keep his place in the rotation. Mets manager Willie Randolph has thus far been steadfast in keeping Ishii in the starting five, but that has been with a curious qualifier: "For now."

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