MIAMI (AP) — The New York Mets dropped out of first place for the first time since early April, unable to erase an early deficit despite Pete Alonso’s 33rd home run in a 6-3 loss to the Miami Marlins on Friday night.
New York, which dropped a half-game behind Atlanta in the NL East, squandered a pair of good scoring chances by grounding into double plays.
The defending World Series champion Braves won 6-4 at Seattle and took sole possession of first place for the first time all season. The only previous day this year the Mets did not hold at least a share of the division lead was April 11.
“It’s that time of year, a lot of us can hit that wall,” Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor said. “We have to find a way to break through the wall and do it together. That’s what good teams do and I’m sure we’re going to do it.”
Garrett Cooper homered, doubled and singled for the Marlins, who have never had a player hit for the cycle. It was Cooper’s third straight multi-hit game following a prolonged slump.
The Mets chipped away at a 4-1 deficit with Alonso’s two-run shot against starter Edward Cabrera in the sixth. Tyler Naquin followed with a walk that ended Cabrera’s outing.
One-out singles from Eduardo Escobar and Tomás Nido off Marlins reliever Tanner Scott and a walk to Brandon Nimmo loaded the bases in the seventh. Steven Okert relieved Scott and retired Lindor on a double-play grounder.
“It was a big moment for both sides, a turning point of the game right there,” Lindor said. “I didn’t come through. That’s on me.”
The Marlins regained their three-run advantage on Charles LeBlanc’s two-run homer against reliever Joely Rodriguez in the eighth. Rodriguez then issued one-out walks to Jerar Encarnación and Bryan De La Cruz. In an unfamiliar role, Mets closer Edwin Díaz entered and got the next two outs.
“We started a little slow and got some things going,” Mets manager Buck Showalter said. “We just couldn’t cash them in.”
Okert got three outs in the eighth and Dylan Floro closed with a perfect ninth for his fourth save.
“Every out you get as you get towards the end of the game, it’s big,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “(Okert) gets us out of a jam there and then we’re able to close it out there with Okie and Flo.”
Nick Fortes had three hits and Miguel Rojas doubled twice for the Marlins, who finished with 10 hits. Miami has double-digit hits in a season-high three straight games.
“It’s been a grind,” Cooper said. “It’s been a struggle for us offensively. As you go throughout the year, you need little reminders to say ‘screw it’ and just go out there and play.”
Cabrera (5-2) allowed three runs and five hits in 5 2/3 innings. The rookie right-hander walked two and struck out four.
The Marlins struck quickly on Cooper’s two-run homer in the first. Cooper drove a changeup from starter David Peterson over the wall in left-center for his eighth homer.
Brandon Nimmo’s run-scoring single in the third made it 2-1, but Jeff McNeil bounced into an inning-ending double play with runners at the corners.
Rojas’ RBI double in the fourth gave Miami another two-run advantage, and Fortes’ RBI double in the fifth made it 4-1.
Peterson (7-4) was lifted after 3 2/3 innings. The left-hander gave up three runs, seven hits and two walks. He struck out seven.
New York fell to 3-4 in its last seven games against a trio of struggling teams: Washington, Pittsburgh and Miami.
“We never look at it that way,” Showalter said. “I know that’s what everybody else wants to talk about. Reality is these are the best players in the world.”
Before his stretch of multi-hit games, Cooper had been in a 10-for-109 slide since July 2. He is 7 for 12 with three doubles and a homer in the past three games against Philadelphia and New York.
“It spiraled on me for about six weeks where I felt like I had to do maybe too much for the team, maybe putting way too much pressure on my shoulders as a hitter,” said Cooper, who made his first All-Star squad in July. “I’m just trying to find my footing again, attacking early and attacking often.”
Mets: RF Starling Marte (fractured right middle finger) remains day-to-day and hopeful of avoiding a stint on the injured list.
Marlins: 2B Jazz Chisholm Jr. (lower back strain) moved his rehabilitation program to Miami from the club’s spring training facility in Jupiter. Chisholm still has not been cleared for baseball activities.
The Mets sent RHP Adonis Medina outright to Triple-A Syracuse after he was designated for assignment Wednesday.
Mets RHP Carlos Carrasco (13-6, 3.91 ERA) will start the middle game of the series Saturday against RHP Pablo López (8-9, 3.66).
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