PHILADELPHIA (AP) - The short-handed Phillies are finding ways to lose, and manager Charlie Manuel thinks his players need to relax.
``I think we're tight, I think we try too hard,' Manuel said after Philadelphia's 7-4 loss to the New York Mets Tuesday night. ``That's why we chase bad balls out of the strike zone ahead in the count, that's why we swing at first-pitch bad balls and so on. I think we're trying too hard.'
Philadelphia, playing all season without injured All-Stars Chase Utley (knee) and Ryan Howard (Achilles') was ahead 4-1 before the Mets took the lead in the seventh with four two-out runs on four hits and a pivotal miscue by the Phillies.
Lucas Duda's single to right off Antonio Bastardo (1-2) drove in David Wright with the go-ahead run for New York.
Kirk Nieuwenhuis' RBI single to right scored Jordany Valdespin and pulled the Mets to 4-2. Chad Qualls replaced starter Joe Blanton and gave up a single to right by Wright that drove in Andres Torres. Hunter Pence's throw home wasn't cut off by first baseman John Mayberry Jr. and Wright got caught in a rundown between first and second base.
However, after Jimmy Rollins threw to first while second base was uncovered, second baseman Pete Orr tried to get Nieuwenhuis off the bag at third, but his throw bounced past third baseman Placido Polanco, allowing Nieuwenhuis to score and Wright to reach third.
``It should've been a better throw,' Orr said.
Duda followed with his tiebreaking hit.
``It was a good job by Wright to keep in the rundown,' Mets manager Terry Collins said. ``That was one of those things that went our way tonight.'
The Mets added two runs in the ninth on Nieuwenhuis's sacrifice fly and Duda's single.
``Our bullpen has to pitch better or get better,' Manuel said.
Manny Acosta (1-2) didn't allow a run or hit in two-thirds of an inning in the sixth in relief of starter Miguel Batista. Jon Rauch got the last three outs in his first save opportunity of the season.
Duda and Wright had two hits and two RBIs each to help the Mets win their fourth straight and 10th come-from-behind victory this season.
``We've been doing it for the past couple of weeks,' Duda said. ``Luckily the ball found some spots. The team battled, that's what we want to do all season.'
Pence homered for the Phillies.
The strange turn of events in the seventh inning spoiled a decent outing by Blanton, who entered the seventh having allowed one run on three hits. He was charged with four runs and five hits in 6 2-3 innings, striking out seven and walking three.
``(Wright) stayed in a rundown good,' Blanton said. ``Sometimes it's a matter of a play here or a play there that makes the whole difference in the game and I feel like that was the situation tonight.'
The play was symbolic of the Phillies' early-season struggles, as Philadelphia fell three games below .500.
``We're kind of spinning our wheels,' Manuel said. ``The teams that we're playing at times they try to give us a game but then we act like we don't want to take it, and we make mistakes and give it right back to them when we have a lead.
``If we just relax and do it because we enjoy doing it and if we can do that I think you'll see a more cool, collect team.'.
Batista, making his second start of the season for the Mets, gave up four runs - two earned - and eight hits in 5 1-3 innings. Batista was taking the spot in the rotation vacated by Mike Pelfrey, who had season-ending Tommy John surgery last week.
Pence gave the Phillies a 2-0 lead in the first with a two-run homer, a 414-foot drive to left-center.
Philadelphia, helped by two Mets errors, scored twice more in the second. Mayberry led off and reached second on a throwing error by shortstop Valdespin. Orr singled home Mayberry and Shane Victorino doubled to left-center to score Orr.
``We scored four runs in the first two innings and that was it,' Orr said. ``We have to do better than that.'
The Mets got on the board in the fourth. Nieuwenhuis started the inning with New York's first hit off Blanton, a double to right-center, and scored on Daniel Murphy's one-out single to left.
The Phillies got a runner to third with one out in the eighth on Placido Polanco's single and two wild pitches by Ramon Ramirez, but Ramirez struck out Orr. Tim Byrdak replaced Ramirez and got pinch-hitter Ty Wigginton to fly out to center.
NOTES: The Mets placed C Josh Thole on the seven-day DL with a concussion, and called up catcher Rob Johnson from Triple-A Buffalo. ... Philadelphia LHP Cliff Lee (0-1, 1.96), out for the last three weeks with a strained oblique, is scheduled to start Wednesday night's game against New York righty Dillon Gee (2-2, 4.50). . The Phillies' crowd of 43,821 was the club's 216th straight regular-season sellout and 232nd counting postseason play.
The Associated Press News Service
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