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Home run off Jonathan Papelbon dooms Phillies in 5-2 loss to New York Mets

If you don't think these Phillies are entertaining, you're obviously not paying attention.

Jonathan Papelbon gave up the game-deciding home run with two outs in the ninth inning. (Steven M. Falk/Staff Photographer)
Jonathan Papelbon gave up the game-deciding home run with two outs in the ninth inning. (Steven M. Falk/Staff Photographer)Read more

If you don't think these Phillies are entertaining, you're obviously not paying attention.

Nothing is easy about creating new ways not to score on a nightly basis.

Roy Halladay is doing things he has never done before in a Phillies uniform.

And just when you thought they were temporarily through with two of the most-hyped rookies in baseball history, a rookie you've probably never heard of used his bat as a dagger Monday night, launching a three-run home run off closer Jonathan Papelbon that carried the New York Mets to a 5-2 victory and pushed the last-place Phillies back to two games under .500 at 14-16.

"We don't do enough," manager Charlie Manuel said. "We had real good chances [to score] in the seventh and eighth, and when you don't take advantage of that usually something not too good happens for you, or happens to you I should say. I don't know."

It was the Phillies' sixth loss of the season in the ninth inning or later.

The anonymous rookie who emerged as a hero for the surprising Mets was Jordany Valdespin, who was called up Monday to replace injured shortstop Ruben Tejada. Phillies centerfielder Shane Victorino got a brief scouting report from Mets manager Terry Collins before the game.

"He said he was a pretty good player with some pretty good attributes," Victorino said. "He didn't say anything about hitting for that kind of power."

It was Papelbon's first loss in a Phillies uniform and it ended his string of nine straight scoreless innings. It was Valdespin's first major-league hit.

"I threw him a sinker," Papelbon said. "I could have thrown a better pitch. It kind of hung a little bit."

Papelbon had two chances to get the final out of the ninth without any damage, but he also surrendered a double to Mike Nickeas on a pitch that he said he also hung.

"Same thing," he said. "Slider."

By the time Valdespin's three-run shot landed in the right-field seats, a lot of Phillies fans were out of their seats and heading for the exits at Citizens Bank Park. When the top of the order went down in order in the bottom of the ninth, the Phillies were booed as they left the field.

This was Halladay's first start since one of the most un-Doc-like starts of the two-time Cy Young Award winner's career. Halladay left his previous start in Atlanta an overheated mess after squandering a 6-0 lead and allowing eight runs for just the fifth time in 359 career starts. Lack of velocity had become a real concern after that wild night in Atlanta, and the Phillies had to be at least a little curious to see what Halladay would bring to the mound against the Mets.

The good news for the Phillies was Halladay looked a lot more like himself.

"I felt good the whole time and I felt like I made good pitches the whole time," Halladay said.

And still he had to deal with frustration as his streak of winless starts stretched to four, the longest of his Phillies career.

Clinging to a 2-0 lead as he went to the mound in the sixth, Halladay retired catcher Josh Thole and pinch-hitter Mike Baxter to start the inning. After leadoff man Andres Torres looked at two called strikes, Halladay was one strike away from his fifth perfect inning of the evening.

Instead, he walked Torres and opened the door for disaster.

With shortstop Jimmy Rollins moving to cover second base on a steal attempt by Torres, rookie Kirk Nieuwenhuis singled into the hole.

David Wright followed with a two-run double on a 1-1 change-up from Halladay. The ball rolled over the bag at third base and caromed into shallow left field. By the time John Mayberry Jr. got to it, Nieuwenhuis was rounding third and on his way home with the tying run.

Halladay wasn't sure Wright's hit was fair and he started to question teammate Placido Polanco about the call until third-base umpire Jim Wolf took offense.

"I thought it was close," he said. "I was asking Polly and Jim took offense to it and said it was in the middle of the bag, so that was kind of that. But I thought it was pretty close. I never got to see a replay."

Halladay limited the Mets to those two runs on a total of five hits and struck out seven, but the most encouraging thing was his renewed velocity. During his disastrous outing against the Braves only five of his 92 pitches were clocked at 92 m.p.h. and zero at 93. Seventeen of his 101 pitches were clocked at 92 and two others at 93 against the Mets.

He said he made some mechanical adjustments between starts.

"I felt like today movement was better and a lot of things were better," Halladay said.

Only the result remained the same, and the blame for that belonged to Papelbon and an offense that found more creative ways not to score.