Mets comeback falls short this time in doubleheader split with Phillies

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An ugly stretch of Mets futility Friday meant a franchise icon’s record is now shared, but the day wasn’t a total bust for manager Luis Rojas’ crew.

Dominic Smith delivered a walk-off RBI single in the eighth inning, allowing the Mets to escape Game 1 of a doubleheader with a 2-1 victory over the Phillies at Citi Field. Victory arrived after Philadelphia’s Aaron Nola struck out 10 straight batters to match a record held alone by Tom Seaver for the past 51 years.

David Peterson was sharp in the nightcap — allowing just one run over six innings — but the Mets were flat offensively in a 2-1 loss, also in eight innings. The doubleheader split was the Mets’ third in the last week (the Nationals an Braves were the other opponents).

The deciding run in Game 2 scored on a sharp grounder to third by Odubel Herrera that Luis Guillorme briefly fumbled, preventing him from throwing home. Travis Jankowski, who began the inning on second base (per the extra-innings rule), had advanced on a grounder which Francisco Lindor fielded and initially thought about throwing to third — the play would have been close.

The Mets scored an unearned run in the seventh inning following Alec Bohm’s fielding error. With the bases loaded, James McCann hit a sacrifice fly that tied it 1-1.

Bryce Harper’s homer in the sixth against Peterson accounted for the Phillies’ first run. Harper was booed as he rounded the bases.

The Mets got robbed in the second inning of the nightcap when Andrew McCutchen reached above the left field fence to rob Albert Almora Jr. of a two-run homer. In the fourth, Pete Alonso was thrown out at second base on Smith’s bloop to center field after not getting the proper read on the ball.

Lefty Matt Moore (who entered with a 7.36 ERA) stifled the Mets, allowing three hits and one walk over five shutout innings.

The Mets barely escaped the first game with the victory. Smith, batting after Alonso had been intentionally walked with the automatic runner on second, slapped a single through the middle against Ranger Suarez and was swarmed by teammates, who tore off his jersey on the field.

“We had a tough game against a very tough pitcher and the guys didn’t give up,” Rojas said.

The Mets were in trouble entering the seventh, trailing 1-0 and facing their last ups, but pitcher Jose Alvarado’s throwing error on a routine comebacker to begin the inning provided an opening, and Lindor made it hurt. Lindor’s two-out RBI single brought in Guillorme, who had raced to second on Alvarado’s throwing error.

The Mets’ previous big chance came in the sixth, when Smith walked against Alvarado to load the bases. But the lefty Alvarado struck out McCann before retiring Kevin Pillar to preserve the Phillies’ lead. Lindor was hit by a pitch and Alonso walked against Nola in the inning to begin the rally.

Nola allowed two hits over 5 ²/₃ shutout innings with one walk, two hit batters and 12 strikeouts.

Michael Conforto whiffed on a 1-2 knuckle curve for the first out of the fourth inning, giving Nola his 10th straight strikeout to match the major league record Seaver set while pitching for the Mets against the Padres on April 22, 1970. Alonso prevented Nola from setting the record, blooping a double to right field that elicited a roar of relief from the crowd.

“[Players] knew there was a string of strikeouts and they knew how good [Nola] was, because they kept talking about how his stuff was going strike to ball and it was just disappearing,” Rojas said. “He was able to paint as well … everyone was aware after six straight. They started paying more attention and then he struck out the side again next inning.”

On April 17 at Colorado, Jacob deGrom got as far as nine straight strikeouts before his streak was broken. Tyler Anderson and Max Scherzer are the other active pitchers who have struck out nine straight batters.

Nola gave the Phillies a 1-0 lead with an RBI double against Walker in the fifth. Nick Maton walked with two outs before Nola, who entered batting .130, hit a shot into the right-center gap for the run. Taijuan Walker rebounded to retire Odubel Herrera.

Walker allowed one run on three hits over five innings with five strikeouts and one walk. The right-hander, whose ERA dropped to 2.38, was coming off an uninspiring performance at Washington, in which he allowed four earned runs over 6 ¹/₃ innings.

“The bullpen did a great job keeping it a one-run game,” Walker said. “We know if we keep the game close we’re going to have a great chance to win it.”

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