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The Mets tied it in the ninth on Scott Hairston’s homer Sunday only to lose in Washington when the Nationals rallied in the bottom half. On Monday, the Mets did it again: Lucas Duda hit a tying two-run shot in the ninth and lost in the 10th. Then they blew a one-run lead in the ninth on Tuesday night.

The challenge for manager Terry Collins is keeping his team’s spirits up.

“This is the toughest part of the year there is no question during the heat of the summer and then there’s 20 in a row,” Collins said. “We tried to make sure the load is lightened up a little for ‘em, continue to try and be as positive as you can.”

NOTES: Florida has won seven of the first 10 meetings between the teams this year and is 4-0 at Citi Field. … Mets ace Johan Santana will return to New York Thursday afternoon to have his surgically repaired shoulder examined. He has lingering discomfort in the shoulder after making his first rehab start. … Marlins ace Josh Johnson (right shoulder inflammation) threw for 5 minutes from 60 feet. He hasn’t pitched since May 16. … Marlins INF Emilio Bonifacio was named NL Player of the Month for July.