NEW YORK (AP) — David Wright sat alone on the bench, staring out at the field for a while after the latest maddening loss for his slumping Mets.
All that green grass out there and New York hitters can’t seem to find any of it when the game is on the line.
Ryan Howard had four hits, including a tiebreaking single in the ninth inning, and Jimmy Rollins homered and scored four times to lead the Philadelphia Phillies to a 5-4 victory Saturday night at Citi Field.
Wright hit his first home run since opening day, ending the longest drought of his career, and had three RBIs. But the Mets wasted another great chance to score in the late innings, dropping their season-worst fifth straight and eighth in nine games. Five of their last six losses have been by one run, including three in a row.
“The frustrating part is losing,” Wright said. “An inning here, an inning there is costing us multiple games over the last few weeks.”
Chase Utley drove in two runs for the Phillies, who have won the first two games of the series against their NL East foes after dropping four straight to Toronto.
“What’s happened here in basically the last 10 days is, we just haven’t been able to execute on the offensive side like we want to,” Mets manager Terry Collins said.
Following some confusion in the eighth, Philadelphia reliever Mike Adams (2-1) escaped a major jam by retiring pinch-hitter Bobby Abreu on a bases-loaded comebacker to keep it tied.
With runners on second and third earlier in the inning, the Phillies held a meeting at the mound and threw an intentional ball to Eric Campbell in his second major league plate appearance. That’s when Utley and catcher Carlos Ruiz noticed the 40-year-old Abreu, cut by Philadelphia near the end of spring training, getting ready in the dugout.
Utley and Ruiz persuaded Adams to go after Campbell before Abreu had a chance to bat. The intentional walk was called off and Campbell eventually took strike three.
“We decided to change our minds,” Utley said. “We saw him coming up there. We try to see everything, but we don’t always.”
Rollins drew a two-out walk from Kyle Farnsworth (0-3) in the ninth and went to third on Utley’s single. Howard followed with a line-drive single to center.
Jonathan Papelbon worked a hitless ninth for his 11th save in 12 chances. With a runner on second, he retired Wright on a foul popup to end it.
A frustrated Wright held his bat above his head most of the way back to the dugout, then lingered on an otherwise empty bench for a few minutes with the lumber still in his hand.
“Just missed a slider that was up and popped it up,” Wright said. “We’re putting ourselves in position to win, we’re just not getting that one hit.”
Rollins, Utley and Howard, the All-Star core of Phillies teams that won five straight division titles and a World Series championship from 2007-11, combined to go 9 for 12 with four RBIs.
“It felt like old times out there,” Howard said.
After the start was delayed 39 minutes by rain, the Phillies wasted no time jumping on Dillon Gee, who had a 7.46 ERA in nine previous starts against them. Philadelphia scored twice in the first, ending Gee’s career-best scoreless streak at 16 innings.
Wright tied it with a two-run shot on an 0-2 pitch from Kyle Kendrick, snapping a streak of 136 at-bats without a homer since March 31 against Washington.
“I don’t build my game around hitting home runs, so it wasn’t too much of a monkey at all,” Wright said.
Rollins homered to put Philadelphia ahead 3-2 in the second, but Wright tied it again with a bloop RBI double in the sixth.
Campbell, with his parents taking pictures in the stands, was sent up to pinch-hit for his big league debut. He gave the Mets a 4-3 lead with a bases-loaded sacrifice fly and was all smiles while receiving high-fives from his teammates.
“It was a real up and down day,” Campbell said.
Rollins legged out an infield single to second in the seventh and advanced on Scott Rice’s wild pitch. Utley doubled off the center-field fence to tie it at 4.
“We need to tighten it up as a pitching staff,” Rice said. “Eventually we are going to start winning these games.”
NOTES: Howard is 9 for 18 against Gee with six homers and 14 RBIs. Rollins is 11 for 22. … LHP Cole Hamels (0-2, 7.02 ERA) will try again for his 100th career win when he makes his fourth start of the season Sunday in the series finale against LHP Jonathon Niese (2-2, 1.82). Hamels was hit hard in a 6-1 loss to Niese at home on April 29 and is 7-14 with a 4.65 ERA in 27 starts against New York. … Campbell was called up Saturday when the Mets optioned backup first baseman Josh Satin to Triple-A Las Vegas. Campbell was in the original lineup at 1B but was removed when Lucas Duda convinced Collins he felt well enough to play. Duda sat out Friday night with food poisoning. Collins said Campbell will start Sunday against Hamels. … The first 20,000 fans received 1969 Nolan Ryan bobbleheads. … Mets INF Omar Quintanilla was sent outright to Triple-A.