With Alou hurting and their lead in the NL East shrinking, the Mets look to avoid their longest losing streak in two years when they conclude a three-game set with the Washington Nationals on Wednesday night.
New York (83-67) has lost five straight for the third time this season, and its lead in the NL East has slipped to 1 1/2 games after Philadelphia’s 14-inning, 7-4 win over St. Louis on Tuesday night.
The Mets held a closed-door team meeting Tuesday, but went on to lose to Washington 9-8 and are now in danger of dropping six in a row for the first time since September 2005.
“If we win, everyone thinks they work,” Mets manager Willie Randolph said of the meeting. “We got together because we’re a team and we stick together.”
A Nationals (68-83) win Wednesday would give them their first home sweep of the Mets since the franchise moved to Washington in 2005.
Meanwhile, a series with the last-place Nationals hasn’t helped end New York’s struggles.
The Mets had a seven-game lead in the NL East after Sept. 12. No major league team has ever failed to finish in first place after leading by seven games or more on that date or later.
Injuries have played a role in New York’s collapse, with slugger Carlos Delgado missing his 11th straight game Tuesday due to a strained right hip flexor. The Mets may now be without another key part of their lineup after Alou left Tuesday’s game in the fifth inning with tightness in his left quadriceps.
Alou, 41, has played on four playoff teams, and his experience and bat would be missed on a Mets team trying to find its way out of a slump. Alou, who has a 22-game hitting streak, missed more than two months earlier this season with a strained left quadriceps before returning in late July.
New York’s lineup wasn’t the problem Tuesday, when the Mets collected 16 hits and went 5-for-10 with runners in scoring position. However, the Mets have surrendered 25 runs in their last three games.
John Maine gave up eight runs in 4 1-3 innings Tuesday, squandering a 7-3 lead. New York will now give the ball to Mike Pelfrey (2-7, 5.23 ERA), who has gone 2-0 with a 2.70 ERA in two starts and one relief appearance since being called up from the minors on Sept. 1.
The 23-year-old right-hander’s last outing was in relief, as he allowed one run and three hits in two innings of a 13-5 loss to Atlanta on Sept. 11.
Pelfrey has a 3.86 ERA but has not gotten a decision in two starts against the Nationals this season.
Washington will counter with Matt Chico (5-8, 4.61 ERA), who gave up three runs and six hits in six innings of an 8-5 loss to Atlanta on Friday night.
The rookie left-hander is 0-1 in his last three starts, but has a 2.00 ERA during that span. Chico is 1-1 with a 5.59 ERA in two starts against the Mets.
Washington’s pitchers have benefited from 21 runs over this series’ first two games. The Nationals have won three of four following a three-game skid, and have won eight of their last 10 at home.
Washington has been able to produce at the plate even without first baseman Dmitri Young, who has missed three straight games after being hit by a hard shot by Atlanta’s Mark Teixeira on Saturday night. The All-Star had an MRI on Tuesday that revealed no significant damage, but his status for Wednesday’s game is uncertain.