- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 10, 2016

NEW YORK (AP) - Before the New York Mets can even think about a big run to boost themselves in the NL wild-card race, they need to set a more modest goal. Like, say, a two-game winning streak.

Neil Walker hit his 20th homer and Steven Matz pitched well, but the Mets let a late lead get away Tuesday night and lost 5-3 to the last-place Arizona Diamondbacks.

The Mets missed a chance to post back-to-back wins for the first time since July 6-7. The defeat came as they began a stretch of nine straight games against Arizona and San Diego, teams with among the worst records in the league.

“It’s kind of like it’s been one step forward and two steps back for us,” Walker said. “But we’re playing hard. This is a hard time of the year, this is a grind-it-out type of year.”

“The teams that are kind of out of it can be dangerous teams, too. Just like these guys, they’re all kind of fighting for jobs next year,” he said.

Zack Greinke won in his return from a six-week stay on the disabled list and Michael Bourn hit a go-ahead triple in the seventh inning.

Paul Goldschmidt and late substitute Brandon Drury each homered for Arizona. The Diamondbacks also stole five bases, with a double steal setting up Bourn’s two-run liner that erased a 3-2 deficit.

“When they get out on that mound … I know the one thing that’s on their minds is to get the hitter out,” Mets manager Terry Collins said of his pitching staff. “They don’t want to somewhat get away from their deliveries for fear of making a mistake. So that is one of the No. 1 things we’ve got to certainly clean up.”

Greinke (11-3) earned his eighth straight victory. The Arizona ace had been out since June 28, when he strained his left side while batting.

Greinke gave up three runs on five hits and a walk in six innings. It was the first time he faced the Mets since losing the decisive Game 5 of the NL Division Series last October with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Jake Barrett closed for his fourth save.

Matz was in position for just his second win in 13 starts before Mets reliever Hansel Robles (5-4) got tagged. Matz matched his big league best by striking out nine in six innings, throwing a career-high 120 pitches.

Chris Owings doubled off Robles to begin the seventh and pinch-hitter Phil Gosselin drew a one-out walk. They pulled off a double steal before Jean Segura struck out, and Bourn tripled to the right-center gap for a 4-3 lead. Goldschmidt followed with an RBI single.

Goldschmidt hit his 18th homer, a solo shot in the sixth for a 2-1 lead.

Walker hit a two-run homer off Greinke in the sixth, sending a drive into the Arizona bullpen in right-center field.

Walker is 26 for 53 (.491) with four homers and 11 RBIs in his last 13 games. His career high for homers is 23 in 2014 with Pittsburgh.

ON THE MOVE

The Mets are sending OF Brandon Nimmo back to Triple-A Las Vegas. He made his major league debut in June and has been back and forth to the minors a couple of times. The Mets need a bat and a possible call-up could be T.J. Rivera, who began the day batting .347 with 11 homers and 80 RBIs in 90 games at Las Vegas. The 27-year-old, who plays infield and some outfield and has never been in the majors, is a career .323 hitter during six seasons in the minors.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mets: Switch-hitting INF Jose Reyes (oblique) is still having trouble swinging from the right side. His rehab assignment has been backed up a day or two. … SS Asdrubal Cabrera (knee) is progressing a bit more slowly than the team expected, general manager Sandy Alderson said. Cabrera has started to hit off a tee. … OF Yoenis Cespedes (quad) will “hopefully” be ready to come off the DL as soon as he’s eligible, Alderson said.

UP NEXT

Diamondbacks: LHP Robbie Ray (5-11, 4.83 ERA) is averaging 11.31 strikeouts per nine innings. He has fanned at least nine in three straight starts.

Mets: RHP Bartolo Colon (10-6, 3.46) has never beaten the Diamondbacks, the only major league club he hasn’t defeated. He is 0-1 in two career starts against them.


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