NEW YORK (AP) -The clubhouse was quiet, eerily like last year. The
New York Mets
kept trying to comprehend another brutal loss, one that left them tumbling toward another September collapse.
''When tomorrow comes, hopefully the sun comes up,'' manager
said. ''It might not.''
In the type of game that could mean lights out for the season, the score alone didn't detail the agony of the Mets' 9-6 loss
on Wednesday night.
's third-inning grand slam off
and a 5-1 lead. Then, they had runners at third base with no outs in each of the last three innings and got only one run out
of it - on a bases-loaded walk.
Having squandered their chances, the Mets watched in disgust as
blooped a go-ahead double in the 10th inning off
followed with a two-run homer.
New York dropped into a tie for the wild-card lead with Milwaukee and remained 1 1/2 games behind Philadelphia in the NL East.
Last year, after opening a seven-game division lead with 17 games to play, the Mets dropped into a tie for a playoff position
with three games remaining. They've lost four of five and have four games left, so they're one game ahead of last season's
pace for futility.
It's hard to conceive of a more demoralizing defeat. Many in the booing crowd of 54,416 quickly filed out following Ramirez's
''It's a, as everybody knows, a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately town, and lately we haven't gotten the job done,''
said. ''So there's a lot of frustration. There's frustration with the fans, there's frustration in the stands, there's frustration
in the dugout.''
's leadoff triple in the ninth off
(7-4), Wright could have won it. He took three straight balls, fouled off a pitch, then missed the next two. Delgado and
were intentionally walked to bring up
, who grounded meekly to
. The second baseman, playing in, threw home for the forceout.
struck out on three pitches.
''It takes a toll on you, there's no doubt about it,'' Wright said. ''Mentally, physically, it beats you up. The positive
thing is if we can get into the playoffs, I think we're going to be more mentally tough than any team in the playoffs if we
can get in, just because of the ups and downs and all the late-inning drama that we've had this year.''
For the eighth time this season, the Mets failed to win after taking a four-run lead, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
''This is not what we scripted.'' Delgado said. ''But definitely we have a group of guys that can fight, and we're going to
fight. We've got to come out tomorrow and we've got to fight.''
Mohawk-coiffed New York starter
was chased after 4 1-3 innings and 105 pitches. The Cubs tied the score 5-5 off
, with the help of an error by Murphy in left, then went ahead on
's RBI double in the seventh against
New York stranded seven runners in the seventh through ninth innings. The Mets failed to score after putting runners at the
corners with no outs in the seventh, then got only one run - on
's bases-loaded walk to
- after putting runners at the corners with no outs in the eighth. The ninth was even worse.
''That's bad. That's bad. That's bad,'' Manuel said.
singled with two outs in the 10th off Ayala (2-10) and stole second. Lee dumped a double down the right-field line to bring
pitched a perfect 10th for his 34th save in 40 chances, giving the Cubs 96 wins for the first time since 1984.
''Guys still want to go out and win games,'' said
, who homered, drove in three runs and left in the fifth inning because of a strained left calf. He said he should be ready
by the time the playoffs start next Wednesday.
Since pitching a no-hitter against Houston on Sept. 14 in his return from a sore rotator cuff, Zambrano has allowed 13 runs,
nine hits and seven walks in six innings. He muttered and glared at plate umpire Jim Wolf in the third inning after his 3-2
pitch to Wright with the bases loaded was called low and outside.
''I gave it mixed reviews,'' Cubs manager
said. ''He's healthy. Let's give him the benefit of the doubt. He's rusty.''
Given a 1-0 lead on DeRosa's second-inning homer, Zambrano lost his control and composure in the third, when he walked Wright
the bases loaded and Delgado sent a high 3-2 pitch over the left-field wall for his second slam this season and the 13th of
his career. Following a dismal start, Delgado has 27 homers and 79 RBIs since June 27.
''It was just one bad pitch to a good hitter,'' Zambrano said.
Perez gave up a two-run double to DeRosa in the fifth, and
singled. When Murphy overran the ball for an error, pinch-runner
came home with the tying run.
''At this juncture, probably our toughest defeat,'' Manuel said. ''No question.''
Notes: The Mets moved Monday into their new offices at Citi Field, where the team starts play on April 14. It was sunny Wednesday
and clear that right fielders will have a difficult time contending with afternoon sun.