Jonathan Papelbon had an assortment of excuses he could have picked from.
He hadnt pitched in five days. He was pitching in a non-save situation. He was facing a guy he had never seen before.
After allowing a mammoth game-winning, three-run ninth-inning home run to unheralded 24-year-old rookie Jordany Valdespin, who was playing for the Buffalo Bisons three days ago, Papelbon opted not to use any.
Its execution, he said. Go out there and try to do your job and get outs whenever called upon. Thats basically what it boils down to. It has nothing to do with the situation that youre put in.
Valdespin, who was 0 for 6 before Monday night in his brief major-league career, sent an 0-1 Papelbon sinker far over the right-field wall to give the Mets a 5-2 win over the Phillies in the first game of a three-game series at Citizens Bank Park (see Roob's Instant Replay).
The Phils fell to 14-16 and dropped five games behind the first-place Nationals, who were idle. They havent been over .500 since they were 1-0.
The homer was the first Papelbon had allowed with more than one runner on base in nearly five years, since Russ Adams of the Blue Jays hit a grand slam off him at Fenway Park on Sept. 19, 2007.
Valdespin became the first Met to homer for his first career hit since Mike Jacobs hit one off Esteban Loaiza on Aug. 21, 2005, at Shea Stadium.
Papelbon hadnt pitched since Tuesday in Atlanta, when he earned his ninth save in nine chances with a scoreless inning in a 4-2 win.
But he said the long layoff wasnt a factor in his ugly ninth inning, when he walked .168 hitter Ike Davis, allowed a long double by .200 hitter Mike Nickeas and then gave up Valdespins improbable blast.
Nah, not getting work in five days has nothing to do with it, he said. Its all about execution, and for me I cant afford a ... walk and a hanging breaking ball in big situations. Its execution.
Valdespin began the season with the Mets and was recalled Saturday to replace injured Ruben Tejada on the roster.
Valdespin, 24, hit 33 career home runs in 1,500 minor-league at-bats.
Im not nervous because I have six at-bats, Valdespin said. Its exciting because its my first hit in the big leagues. It's exciting giving the chance for my team to win."
Papelbon had allowed only one run and six hits in his first 11 games as a Phillie.
Threw him a sinker, and it wasnt really as executed as Id like it to be, Papelbon said. But were in the big leagues, man, and its part of the game. I could have thrown a better pitch. It kind of hung a little.
Other than that ... typical day for the Phillies.
They scored single runs in the first and second innings, then didnt score again against five Mets pitchers despite loading the bases with one out in the seventh and getting second and third with one out in the eighth.
Couldnt get nothing going after the second, manager Charlie Manuel said. We had chances in the seventh and eighth -- big chances -- and we couldnt do it. Weve got to get somebody in, and were having trouble doing it. When you dont take advantage of that, usually something not-too-good happens to you.
Roy Halladay allowed only one base-runner through 5 23 innings and was coasting along with a 2-0 lead when the Mets tied the game on David Wrights two-run, two-out double over the third-base bag.
I thought it was close, Halladay said. I was asking Polly Placido Polanco, and Jim Wolf, third base umpire took offense to it and said it was over the middle of the bag, so that was kind of that. But I thought it was pretty close.
Instead of a harmless strike, Andres Torres and Kirk Nieuwenhuis came around to score. The one-hit shutout was gone, and the game was tied.
Two runs, tied the game up, and made it tough for us, Halladay said. I felt good the whole time and felt like we made good pitches the whole time. I would have liked to have that ground ball hit at Polly, but it was right on the line. You try to get the next guy and move on.
After his last start -- eight earned runs in 5 13 innings in Atlanta Wednesday -- Halladay was very good. He allowed five hits and two runs in seven innings, walking one and striking out seven.
We made a few mechanical changes and really I felt good, Halladay said. I felt good last time, theres times where youre not getting behind the ball and youre getting on the side of it and things can be a little flatter, and thats one of those things, you try to make adjustments. I felt like today, movement was better. A lot of things were better. I was happy with the adjustments we made.
Its tough to go out and feel like youre doing what you need to do and still coming up a little short, but I felt like the changes we made were good, and I felt like the movement was better today than it probably was in Atlanta.
The Phillies appeared to take a 3-2 lead in the seventh when Hunter Pence beat Mets shortstop Justin Turners relay throw to first after an infield grounder, scoring Juan Pierre.
But as the crowd cheered, Shane Victorino was cited by second base umpire Ron Kulpa with interfering with Turners ability to throw to first. Victorino slid right into Turner, nowhere near the second-base bag.
I just went aggressively in that play, and he got the correct call, Victorino said. Not saying I was trying to get away with one. My thought process was try to break up the double play. He called interference, and it was the right call.
E-mail Reuben Frank at firstname.lastname@example.org