Orioles first baseman Aubrey Huff muffed a seventh-inning pop down the right-field line, an error that produced two unearned runs and helped the Mets pull out a 6-4 victory Tuesday night.
New York had lost eight of 12, including two of three to the hated Yankees over the weekend. In the first game, Mets second baseman Luis Castillo dropped a popup that enabled the Yankees to score two ninth-inning runs in a 9-8 victory.
This time, the same kind of error went New York's way.
The Mets led 4-2 in the seventh before loading the bases with two outs. David Wright lifted a fly that Huff tried to snare with an over-the-shoulder catch. The ball bounded out of his glove, providing New York with what proved to be the winning runs.
"It's a tough game. We've all been there," Wright said. "I've dropped popups; I know how tough it is when you start backpedaling and that ball starts bouncing. That's the beautiful and sometimes the terrible thing about this game. It's very humbling. Just when you think everything's going good and everything's going well, something like that happens."
It isn't often that a game is decided by a dropped popup. For the Mets, that's twice in four games.
"I don't laugh at those," said Jerry Manuel, who completed one year as the Mets manager and has seen more than his share of mistake-filled play. "It's a nightmare and I wake up sweating. But it's a part of baseball. In the course of 162, everybody gets their breaks and all those things even out, for the most part."
It was a difficult play for Huff, who had to run a long way to catch up to the pop. A second baseman usually has a better angle on that kind of hit, but Brian Roberts had too far to run because he was shaded toward the middle with Wright at the plate.
"That's a play where you catch it, it's a great play," Huff said. "You're running as hard as you can down the line and you're looking up behind you. I mean, it's not routine by any means."
The Orioles also made two errors during New York's four-run fourth inning. New York scored three unearned runs in all, helping Mike Pelfrey (5-2) earn his first win in more than five weeks.
Besides that painful 9-8 loss to the Yankees, the Mets dropped the series finale, 15-0. But after a travel day, they enjoyed a reversal of fortune against the last-place Orioles.
"We had the off-day to relax a little bit and get back at it," Wright said. "It's a resilient team."
Pelfrey allowed two runs and five hits in 5 2/3 innings. The right-hander had gone 0-2 in six starts since defeating Philadelphia on May 7.
Francisco Rodriguez gave up a bases-loaded walk to Ty Wigginton and a run-scoring groundout to Roberts in the ninth, then struck out Adam Jones with two runners in scoring position for his 17th save in 18 opportunities.
"We made them earn it after we gave them some runs and some extra chances," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said,
In the New York fourth, the trouble for the Orioles began when Roberts fumbled Carlos Beltran's potential double-play grounder. Wright followed with an RBI single, and Beltran took third on a poor throw by left fielder Nolan Reimold. Gary Sheffield then singled in a run, Daniel Murphy hit a sacrifice fly and Brian Schneider capped the uprising with a run-scoring single.
Baltimore got its first baserunner when Markakis singled with two outs in the fourth. In the fifth, Pelfrey struck out Roberts with the bases loaded and two outs.
Markakis homered in the sixth following a leadoff single by Jones. It was his eighth homer, the first in 22 games since May 21.
It was a rare mistake by Pelfrey, who had allowed only 24 home runs in 365 innings since entering the league in 2006.
- The game marked the one-year anniversary of the hiring of manager Jerry Manuel, who improved to 88-67 since Willie Randolph was fired after a June 16 game in Anaheim.
- Roberts went 0 for 5, ending a six-game run in which he was 11 for 22.
- Wright has hit in 11 straight games, going (24 for 43, .558) in that span.