NEW YORK (AP) - As the Mets skid to their third straight losing season, the plus side is that few of their fans seem to be paying much attention.
Dillon Gee, Nick Evans and Ruben Tejada all failed to get down bunts, and the Mets blew a two-run lead in their latest defeat, a 3-2 loss to the Washington Nationals on Tuesday night.
``They've all bunted in big situations. They have to execute,' Mets manager Terry Collins said.
Gee struck out attempting to bunt after Josh Thole's leadoff double in the fifth. With two on and no outs in the sixth, Evans struck out following a fouled bunt attempt. And after Jose Reyes' leadoff single in the seventh, Tejada popped to first on a bunt.
``There's mechanical things involved. I don't want to say that they're `careless,' but you got to do it the right way,' Collins said. ``There's a correct, mechanical way - we have to get back to doing it.'
New York (71-77) has lost four in a row and six of seven since pulling within a game of .500. On ``Star Wars' night, fans stayed away from Citi Field as if fleeing Darth Vader. The announced crowd was 25,359 and actual attendance in the 41,800-capacity ballpark appeared to be half that. In the fourth inning, the last eight sections in the left field upper deck held a total of 10 fans.
The Mets are averaging 30,240, according to STATS LLC, down from 32,402 last year and their lowest since 2004. More empty seats figure to be ahead: $134 Delta Club tickets behind home plate for Wednesday night's game were available on StubHub.com for $53.35.
With the score 2-2 in the seventh, Washington went ahead when pitcher Craig Stammen (1-1) singled off Dale Thayer (0-2) for his first hit since July 30 last year. Ian Desmond singled him to second with one out, Rick Ankiel advanced Stammen by grounding into a forceout against Tim Byrdak, and Ryan Zimmerman lined a single to left off Bobby Parnell.
New York put runners at the corners in the ninth on two-out singles by Reyes and Tejada before Drew Storen (36th save) struck out Lucas Duda on three pitches.
A 2-0 lead in the fifth appeared promising. After Thole was thrown out at the plate by Ankiel on Reyes' single to center, Duda hit an RBI single for his third hit of the night. Another run scored when the ball skipped by right fielder Jayson Werth for an error.
But Gee immediately gave up the lead in the sixth on RBI doubles by Ankiel and Michael Morse.
``He's nibbling too much, fell behind, and then he got himself in trouble,' Collins said. ``He changed the way he went about things, got a way from the success he had earlier in the game.'
Gee gave up two runs and six hits in 5 2-3 innings. He remained tied for second among rookies with Tampa Bay's Jeremy Hellickson at 12 wins, three behind the Yankees' Ivan Nova.
``I think I got a little carried away with myself,' Gee said. ``When things start speeding up, that's when I need to step off and remember what is working. I start getting more rush, more rushed.'
NOTES: The Mets stranded 10 runners, giving them 30 LOBs in three games and a major league-leading 1,148 this year. ... New York was 2 for 9 with runners in scoring position and is 17 for 73 (.233) in the last nine games. ... RHP Mike Pelfrey starts for the Mets on Wednesday, and RHP Chris Schwinden, who made his major league debut against Atlanta last week, will start on Thursday in place of Chris Capuano, who will be pushed back to Friday at Atlanta. Brad Peacock and Tom Milone start for the Nationals. ... Mets OF Jason Bay didn't play because of a sore right shoulder.
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