Should we begin worrying about R.A. Dickey? He allowed five runs to the Braves on Saturday and has now allowed exactly five runs in each of three of his past four starts. The bats bailed Dickey out to give him a chance for his 13th win, but of course the bullpen blew the game.
The Mets took a 1-0 lead in the first when Josh Thole doubled home Ike Davis, who had led off the inning with a double of his own.
But the lead quickly evaporated in the bottom of the inning. Freddie Freeman hit a slow grounder to second, Daniel Murphy charged and fielded it cleanly but his flip to first went over Davis’s head. It was ruled a single but it should have been an error. Brian McCann singled to right and Dickey walked Dan Uggla to load the bases. Eric Hinske doubled to give the Braves the 2-1 lead. Michael Bourn singled to plate Uggla, but Hinske was thrown out at the plate to end the inning. Still though, they had a 3-1 lead.
Davis led off the fourth with a solo shot into the seats in right-center to make it 3-2. His 13 home runs now lead the team. Murphy followed with a single and Kirk Nieuwenhuis walked. Murphy moved to third on a fly out and then Andres Torres singled — Murphy scored and it was all tied at three.
Terry Collins was tossed in the fifth when he argued with umpires over a play in left. With a runner on first and one out, Jordany Valdespin trapped a fly ball, but one umpire called it an out while another correctly called it a trap. Davis tagged out the runner who was on first, who was caught between first and second, unsure what to do after the conflicting calls. After conferring, the umps ruled him safe at second. Collins argued that he should have been out since he was off the base. It was crucial because with two outs both runners scored on a Freeman double to make it a 5-3 game.
It was a poorly umpired game in general. Aside from this play, first base ump CB Bucknor called Valdespin out on a play at first that wasn’t even close, and home plate umpire Dan Iassogna had a very inconsistent strike zone that had players shaking their heads all day.
With runners on first and second with one out in the sixth, Bob Geren, running the team in Collins’s absence, pinch hit for Dickey. Justin Turner delivered with a run-scoring single to make it 5-4 and put runners on first and third. That chased Braves starter Tommy Hansen from the game. Ruben Tejada greeted Chad Durbin with a single to center to tie the score at five. Valdespin singled to right to drive in Turner and give the Mets a 6-5 lead.
Dickey allowed five runs on eight hits in five innings, his second shortest outing of the season. His shortest was also in Atlanta, back in April when he allowed eight runs and lasted 4.1 innings in that rain-soaked game in which he suffered his only loss of the season.
Then it was in the hands of the bullpen. Josh Edgin followed his major league debut on Friday — in which he allowed two runs but also struck out three — by striking out the side and walking one in the sixth.
Jon Rauch walked one one batter and left the seventh with two outs and a runner on second. Tim Byrdak closed out the inning.
Tejada came up clutch again in the eighth. With Torres on second, who had doubled, Tejada singled to right to give the Mets a huge insurance run and extend the lead to 7-5.
Byrdak stayed in to pitch to lefty Brian McCann leading off the bottom of the eighth, but he walked him. Byrdak gave way to Pedro Beato. Uggla hit a long drive to left that hit the wall on one bounce. Quick work by Valdespin kept McCann at second. Beato struck out Tyler Pastornicky attempting to sacrifice. In an odd move, Geren then pulled Beato and brought closer Bobby Parnell into the game. He struck out Juan Francisco but Bourn hit a single up the middle to score McCann to make it 7-6. With runners on first and third Martin Prado singled to right to tie the score at seven. Runners on first and third again, and this time Jason Heyward came through with a single as the Braves took the lead 8-7. Ronny Cedeno made a nice play on a Chipper Jones grounder to finally end the inning.
The Mets looked severely overmatched against Craig Kimbrel in the ninth — Davis, Murphy and pinch hitter Lucas Duda all struck out to end the game.
Geren will certainly be questioned about his ninth inning pitching changes as the Mets lose a screwy one, 8-7.