Wheeler struggles as Mets fall 8-1
Cleveland — Zack Wheeler labored through five innings and the New York Mets offense was shut down against a dominant Scott Kazmir in an 8-1 loss Friday night to Cleveland.
Wheeler (7-4) got the first road loss of his career, giving up three runs (two earned) and five hits.
He struck out three and walked five, which tied a career high. The short night broke Wheeler's streak of five consecutive starts of pitching at least six innings.
"He had to fight through a lot of innings," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "He had to work very, very hard the whole game to keep us in the game, and he did that."
Wheeler wasn't pleased with his performance.
"Never good when you walk five guys, make it a lot harder on yourself," he said. "It was just a bad job tonight overall for me, not getting ahead of guys, falling behind."
Away from Citi Field, Wheeler is 5-1 with a 2.32 ERA in nine starts. Even with Friday's loss, New York has still won 10 of Wheeler's first 15 games in the majors.
"He's got great stuff, man. No doubt," Indians first baseman Nick Swisher said. "He's got a good backdoor slider, his fastball has some serious action on it."
With a combined 156 2-3 innings pitched between New York and Triple-A Las Vegas this season, Wheeler has had a long season, but he isn't ready to use that as an excuse.
"Once you go out there, you aren't really tired," he said. "It's just in-between starts, it's just lagging and stuff, so that really didn't have anything to do with tonight."
Kazmir (8-7) struck out at least one batter in each of his six innings, including the side in the first, third and sixth and finished with 12 strikeouts.
"Best I've ever seen him pitch, and I saw him pitch in Tampa for a while," Collins said.
The Mets took Kazmir with the 15th overall pick in the 2002 draft, but he never pitched a game for them. Kazmirwas dealt to Tampa Bay two years later for pitcher Victor Zambrano.
The trade turned out to be one of the worst in Mets history as Kazmir made the All-Star team twice with the Rays and Zambrano went 10-14 in parts of three seasons in New York, and was out of baseball in 2007.
Kazmir, signed as a minor league free agent after pitching in an independent league last season, fell one strikeout short of his career high, which came when he struck out 13 against Oakland on Aug. 25, 2007.
Swisher hit a grand slam in the eighth — the eighth of his career — and Carlos Santana added two RBIs.
New York got a runner to third with one out in the fifth. Juan Lagares singled, extending his hitting streak to a career-high 11 games. Catcher Yan Gomes' pickoff attempt sailed down the right field line, moving Lagares to third. Kazmir struck out Wilmer Flores and retired Ernie Young on a groundout.
The Mets' lone run came on a Justin Turner homer in the seventh inning, his first of the season.
Before the game, it was announced that Mets left-hander Scott Rice, who leads the league with 73 appearances, would undergo two season-ending sports hernia surgeries next week, one on each side.
"We actually thought it was a hip strain more than anything, but it got to the point where the discomfort was so large we had to get him checked," Collins said.
Rice, 31, spent 14 years in the minor leagues before making his major league debut this season, and ended his rookie year holding left-handed batters to a .174 average. He finishes the season 4-5 with a 3.71 ERA. In 51 innings, Rice allowed 42 hits, struck out 41 and walked 27 while giving up only one home run.
"He's had an outstanding year, just an outstanding year," Collins said. "He should be very proud — he certainly did a good job for us."
• Two other hitting streaks were extended for the Mets on Friday. 2B Daniel Murphy extended his streak to 10 games in which he's batting .439 (18-for-41). He also has 16 hits in his past 35 at-bats ... 1B Lucas Duda has hits in five straight games. ... LHP Jonathon Niese (6-6, 3.66) will take the mound for the Mets today. He earned the win in the Mets' 8-4 victory in Cleveland on June 16, 2010, pitching seven innings and allowing three runs and eight hits, striking out three and walking two. Niese will take on RHP Corey Kluber, who will be making his first start in more than a month because of a sprained right middle finger.
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