- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 17, 2009

BALTIMORE | Knowing how bad it feels to lose a game on a dropped popup, the New York Mets refused to revel in the Baltimore Orioles’ misery.

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,” Mets manager Jerry Manuel said. “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,

Baltimore starter Jeremy Guthrie (4-7) permitted five runs in 6 1/3 innings. Nick Markakis homered for the Orioles, who have lost nine of 12.

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