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Bullpen difficulties drive Mets back to .500

The SportsXchange

The New York Mets spoke often this winter about what their revamped bullpen would be able to provide for them in 2012. So far, however, it has simply been more of the same.

The bullpen blew another late lead in Friday's 5-4 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks, this time when Jon Rauch served up game-tying and game-winning hits to the first two batters he faced in the eighth inning. First baseman Ike Davis and left-hander Tim Byrdak sparked the rally by committing a fielding error and walking a batter, respectively.

"It comes back to bases on balls," manager Terry Collins said. "The bullpen has no history of that. Right now we're deep in counts, we're falling behind, and you can't do that."

Over their last seven games, Mets relievers have posted a combined 1-3 record with an 8.64 ERA. Rauch has been one of the primary culprits, giving up four earned runs over his last three appearances, a span of 2 1/3 innings.

The Mets acquired Rauch, closer Frank Francisco and right-hander Ramon Ramirez this winter to shore up a bullpen that ranked 28th in baseball in ERA. That group got off to a hot start but has struggled with its consistency ever since.

Largely as a result of that, the Mets are back to a .500 record (13-13) for the second time this season. They have not fallen below .500 after jumping out to a 4-0 start.
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