NEW YORK -- Through eight innings and five outs Monday night at Citi Field, the Mets had handed the Marlins two runs on a pair of defensive misplays and cost themselves a run of their own on the basepaths.
And yet, when Lucas Duda tied the game with a dramatic two-run homer on the Mets' final out, it appeared as if the team's miscues might be forgiven as the game proceeded to extra innings. But the ecstatic home fans who drew Duda out of the dugout for a curtain call would be heading for the exits soon after.
Following another defensive mishap in the top of the 10th, this one by Daniel Murphy, Mike Stanton launched a grand slam off Jason Isringhausen to crush the Mets' comeback hopes and put them away, 7-3.
It was the second consecutive night the Mets hit a game-tying home run in the ninth, only to have the tie broken in the next half-inning.
"It's just one of those nights when if you do it long enough, you're going to have these nights," Isringhausen said. "But in the same sense, these guys battled back for nine innings, and for me to go in there and do that, it's hard on me. I feel bad for them."
Hours after general manager Sandy Alderson told reporters he had intentionally refrained from making additional moves before Sunday's non-waiver Trade deadline -- in order to give his team a chance to make a playoff push -- the Mets did little to inspire confidence in such a run during the game's early stages.
In the top of the first, Florida's Omar Infante banged an 0-2 offering from Mike Pelfrey off the wall in left field that wound up being a triple when Jason Bay overpursued the ball, allowing it to bounce back off the wall and over his head. The mistake would prove crucial when Gaby Sanchez hit a sacrifice fly to score Infante and give Florida a 1-0 lead.
The Marlins tacked on another run in the third before a David Wright throwing error helped the Marlins bring home an unearned run in the fourth.
Though Pelfrey walked three batters, one intentionally, in his final two innings, he did not allow another hit before giving way to Ryota Igarashi to start the seventh. Pelfrey finished the night having given up three runs, two earned, on six hits in six innings. He struck out three batters and walked three.
"I would have liked to have been a little more efficient," Pelfrey said. "Obviously they fouled off some pitches and worked some at-bats and made it pretty hard to get through six."
It was in the bottom of the fourth that Bay would atone for his earlier mistake. The left fielder took a letter-high pitch on the outside corner and ripped it the other way into the bullpen in right-center field for an opposite-field solo homer, his seventh dinger of the year.
The Mets had a chance to make up more ground in the fifth when Jose Reyes looped a leadoff double to right field off Marlins starter Javier Vazquez. Justin Turner followed with a single to right field, but Reyes was thrown out by Stanton, whose throw beat him to the plate by several feet.
"That was super right there. It stopped them right quick," Marlins manager Jack McKeon said. "That was probably the key play of the game up until the home run by Duda. That was something special, really. I didn't think he had a chance to throw him out when he rounded third."
Duda's red-herring heroics were set up by Igarashi and Manny Acosta -- who struck out four in two perfect innings of relief -- and Angel Pagan, who stretched a one-out single into a double with a bit of aggressive baserunning in the ninth. The home run represented the first time in franchise history the Mets tied back-to-back games with two-out homers in the ninth inning or later, and it broke closer Leo Nunez's streak of 11 consecutive converted saves.
After Gaby Sanchez and Hanley Ramirez singled to lead off the 10th, it appeared the Mets had caught yet another a break when Dewayne Wise singled through the right side of the infield and proceeded toward second despite the fact that Sanchez and Ramirez were stationed at third and second, respectively. Duda tossed the ball to the cutoff man Murphy, who held onto the ball a bit too long, allowing Wise to beat his flip throw back to first base.
Collins admitted after the game he likely would have intentionally walked the hot-hitting Stanton had the Mets converted the play, but the miscue gave him no such option. Six pitches later, Stanton made the Mets pay for their fielding follies one final time, and the game was all but over.
"Very unfortunately, we've been here before and we've bounced back from them before, and we'll bounce back again," Collins said. "To rally back, get the big hit, it lifts your club up. But it all comes down to what we talked about Feb. 14 -- we've got to play fundamentally sound baseball. There's nights we don't do that, and when we don't do that, we lose games."
Aaron Taube is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.