PHILADELPHIA — Don’t blame Big Pelf.
The lightning rod that is Mike Pelfrey actually performed well enough yesterday to give the Mets a series sweep of the Phillies. But who could have known the Mets bullpen — with sloppy defense playing a role — was due for its first real 2012 implosion?
Ramon Ramirez and Manny Acosta in particular weren’t up to the challenge of finishing off the lethargic Phillies, and the Mets were handed an 8-2 loss before 45,829 at Citizens Bank Park.
Ruben Tejada’s throwing error in the eighth helped four unearned runs score against Acosta after Ramirez had flushed the lead an inning earlier. Miguel Batista, for good measure, entered in the eighth and was charged for the final run.
MORE IKE IT: Ike Davis — wearing No. 42 to commemorate Jackie Robinson Day across the majors — receives congratulations from David Wright after a two-run, first-inning homer. The Mets bullpen eventually blew the lead en route to an 8-2 loss in Philadelphia.
METS BOX SCORE
The Mets (6-3) went from the brink of a three-game sweep against their hated NL East nemesis to disappointed about the missed opportunity.
“When you’re ahead 2-1 and late in the game, you want to finish it off,” manager Terry Collins said. “I thought we were set up pretty good for it, and we didn’t finish it like we should have.”
Laynce Nix’s RBI double off Ramirez in the seventh put the Phillies ahead 3-2, giving them their first lead of the series. Nix’s double broke a streak of 67 at-bats by Mets pitchers, since Friday’s ninth inning, without allowing an extra-base hit.
The Phillies had tied the game at 2-2 earlier in the inning on Ty Wigginton’s sacrifice fly. Ramirez’s wild pitch, on a slider in the dirt, had moved runners to second and third with one out.
It got ugly in the eighth. Acosta had one out with a runner on second, when Placido Polanco hit a grounder that Tejada grabbed and threw wide of first. Shane Victorino was then retired before Acosta walked two batters, forcing in a run. Wigginton greeted Batista with a three-run double.
On the brighter side for the Mets, Pelfrey lasted six innings and allowed one run on eight hits and two walks with two strikeouts. He surrendered a run in the first, but left in the seventh with the Mets leading 2-1.
“I always tell myself that if I get through the first [inning], it’s going to be a good day,” Pelfrey said. “But the first three guys got on, and I said ‘Oh, man, I’ve got to limit this damage.’ I thought I had to make better pitches.”
Pelfrey allowed three straight singles in the first, including one to Jimmy Rollins that pulled the Phillies within 2-1, but escaped disaster when he retired Carlos Ruiz with the bases loaded. The Phillies only put two runners in scoring position against Pelfrey over the next five innings.
Collins said he removed Pelfrey after 99 pitches in part because the manager needed to get work for Ramirez and Acosta, neither of whom had pitched since Wednesday.
“I thought Mike was very good today, and it was a good sign,” Collins said.
Ike Davis’ first homer of the year — a two-run shot into the right-field seats in the first — got the Mets an early lead against Cole Hamels. The shot was certainly a relief for Davis, who entered in a 2-for-28 (.071) rut to begin the season with no extra-base hits.
David Wright’s two-out single had extended the inning before Davis unloaded. It was the Mets’ fifth homer of the series.
“I’m just glad I hit the ball on the barrel of the bat and it didn’t get caught,” Davis said. “Hamels had good stuff today, and we just fell a little short.”
Phillies, Mike Pelfrey, Manny Acosta, the Mets, Mets, the Mets, Ike Davis, Miguel Batista, manager Terry Collins, Ty Wigginton