NEW YORK (AP) - Mike Pelfrey, towel around his neck, stared into space from the dugout. New York Mets manager Terry Collins, arms crossed, looked stonefaced.
The Subway Series finale had been filled with promise for the Mets. They won Friday's opener to reach .500 for the first time since they had been 4-4. They led 3-1 in the seventh inning Sunday.
And then the Mets derailed. Not as swiftly or as dramatically as in the first Subway Series game at new Yankee Stadium - remember Luis Castillo? - but an especially painful defeat nonetheless.
The Yankees scored eight runs in the bottom of the seventh, sending 13 men to the plate but getting only one extra-base hit. Derek Jeter's two-run single off Mike Pelfrey and Alex Rodriguez's 55-foot, bases-loaded single against Pedro Beato keyed the Yankees to a 9-3 victory.
``It leaves a bad taste in your mouth,' Pelfrey said. ``I thought I threw the ball well and, obviously, the seventh inning ruined the whole day for me, ruined the whole day for the team.'
The Mets lost two of three in the Bronx and are back to 22-24.
``I'm glad tomorrow's off. I can tell you that,' Collins said. ``It was just one of those innings. It didn't matter. If they swung, it found a hole. We got a ground ball. We got popups that dropped in. There's nothing we can doing about those.'
The Mets led 3-1 heading into the seventh. Curtis Granderson's 16th homer - second in the majors to Toronto's Jose Bautista - put the Yankees ahead in the first against Pelfrey (3-4), but the Mets plowed ahead in the second when Willie Harris and Jason Pridie hit run-scoring singles around Ronny Paulino's RBI comebacker. Ivan Nova allowed 11 hits in 6 2-3 innings, all but the last was a single.
Brett Gardner started the seventh-inning rally when he singled between Pelfrey's legs and into center.
``I even told myself that before I threw it: 'Throw a sinker right here and get a ground ball and be ready.' And it got right by me,' Pelfrey said. ``It's frustrating. You have an opportunity, and you don't help yourself out.'
Chris Dickerson walked and Francisco Cervelli was hit on a shoulder with a pitch when he squared to bunt.
``Cervelli was giving himself up, and I knew it,' Pelfrey said. ``I ended up hitting a guy who was trying to give himself up.'
Everything would spin out of control from there.
``It was a huge deflation. You could sense it in the dugout, especially when you hit the catcher,' Collins said. ``The air came out of the balloon right then. We knew we were in trouble, and you've got Jeter coming up.'
Jeter grounded the next pitch up the middle, just to the side of Pelfrey's glove at the mound and past diving shortstop Jose Reyes behind second.
Tim Byrdak relieved, Granderson sacrificed and the Mets walked Mark Teixeira to pitch to Rodriguez. A-Rod reached outside for the first pitch from Beato. While third baseman Willie Harris picked up the slow roller, he had no play as A-Rod reached and Gardner sprinted home.
Rodriguez is 7 for 13 (.538) with three homers and 23 RBIs in 18 career plate appearances following intentional walks, including 6 for 8 with 19 RBIs following intentional walks to Teixeira.
``I still got to get a ground ball and I got a ground ball, by the way,' Collins said. ``I'm well aware of A-Rod, who he is, what he is, what he's been and what he'll still be. He's truly one of the great players who's every played this game, but the situation dictates you try to get out of the inning with a ground ball.'
Robinson Cano singled for a 5-3 lead, and, after Jorge Posada took a called third strike, Gardner hit a two-run double off Pat Misch. Chris Dickerson blooped a two-run single.
The Mets' day was symbolized when Reyes hit a chopper in the seventh to Teixeira, who with his glove flipped the ball to Nova covering the first-base bag.
``I definitely don't practice that one,' Teixeira said. ``It doesn't work out that perfect every time.'
It was that type of day.
``We let it slip away, and that's on me more than anybody,' Pelfrey said. ``But we'll be fine.'
NOTES: Paulino took over at catcher for the Mets from Josh Thole, in a 10-for-65 (.154) slump. Collins said Paulino will start the next few games. ... The Mets hadn't allowed that many runs in an inning since May 2 last year, a nine-run fourth at Philadelphia. ... Willie Harris had three hits after getting three in his previous 22 games.
The Associated Press News Service
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