SAN FRANCISCO — In the glory days of June they moved 10 games above .500 and dreamed of turning the NL East into a runaway.
Now, in the dog days of August, the Mets are back to even and have to wonder if they will see the plus side of .500 again.
The misery continued Monday night, when the Giants blasted three homers — including two by shiny new toy Kris Bryant — in sending the Mets to a 7-5 loss at Oracle Park. The loss was the Mets’ fourth straight and 11th in 15 games, pushing them 3 ½ lengths behind the Braves in the NL East.
Brandon Belt and Bryant homered as part of a three-run seventh inning against Trevor May, crystalizing the Mets’ latest setback. The Mets (59-59) are nearly one-third of the way through a hellacious 13-game stretch against the Dodgers and Giants and still looking for a victory.
“I don’t really think about .500 right now,” J.D. Davis said. “We don’t really think about our record. I think we’re more into just winning ballgames, and that is the biggest thing — just trying to get back into this and trying to get a snowball effect on the winning side.”
Jonathan Villar got the Mets closer with a two-run homer in the eighth, but it wasn’t enough to undo the previous inning’s damage, which also included a Brandon Crawford RBI triple.
“We’re in these games,” Davis said. “We are right there — two extra-inning games against the Dodgers … we’re right in these games and it’s just that one hit where it puts us over the top or over that hill.”
Bryant, whom the Mets spoke to the Cubs about at the trade deadline (before ultimately acquiring Javier Baez) blasted a two-run homer in the fifth before unloading again in the seventh.
Miguel Castro was entrusted a 3-2 lead in the fifth, but put the Mets back into familiar chasing mode by surrendering a bomb to Bryant, who cleared the center-field fence after Alex Dickerson — part of the left-handed hitting brigade manager Gabe Kapler dispatched after Rich Hill left the game — stroked a one-out double.
The Mets’ bats awoke against Kevin Gausman in the fifth. Pete Alonso delivered his first triple since 2019 (good for two runs) to tie the game before diving across the plate on Dominic Smith’s sacrifice fly to give the Mets a 3-2 lead.
Brandon Nimmo legged out a leadoff infield single to begin the rally and Michael Conforto walked. Alonso followed with a shot into the right-center gap and didn’t stop running until diving into third. Gausman, the Giants ace, departed after the inning. Overall he allowed three earned runs on five hits with seven strikeouts and two walks.
“Overall I thought the guys swung the bat better than we have in the last four days,” manager Luis Rojas said. “We need to carry over our offense like this into the next games if we want to win those games.”
James McCann’s bunt single in the sixth gave the Mets runners on first and second with nobody out, but the Giants bullpen won the battle. After Jay Jackson retired pinch-hitter Travis Blankenhorn, lefty Jose Alvarez entered and got Nimmo to pop out before Conforto was caught looking at strike three to end the inning.
Hill gave the Mets three strong innings before fading in the fourth, when he was removed after allowing two earned runs on four hits. It marked the first time the lefty failed to complete five innings since arriving to the Mets at the trade deadline.
Buster Posey doubled with one out in the fourth to begin Hill’s downfall. Darin Ruf followed with an RBI single, but was erased from the base paths on a replay challenge that showed his foot off the bag as Alonso applied the tag at first after receiving the relay throw. The Giants began another rally, with consecutive singles from Evan Longoria, Crawford and Wilmer Flores, the last of which brought in the second run. Castro entered with runners on the corners and retired pinch-hitter Tommy La Stella to keep the Mets’ deficit at 2-0.
“We didn’t execute our pitches and we had some missed opportunities with runners in scoring position,” Rojas said.
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