Mets flop in clutch again for second straight loss to Red Sox

In two games at Fenway Park this week, the Mets lineup looked more than formidable. Before and after, it’s been a different story.

Thursday night, most of the Mets hitters could have traded places with the cardboard cutouts in the stands and few would have recognized the difference.

Yet for a second straight night the game was there for the taking in the late innings and the Mets couldn’t deliver. This time they left the bases loaded in the eighth in losing 4-2 to the Red Sox at Citi Field.

After pushing reliever Matthew Barnes to his 37th pitch of the inning, Andres Gimenez hit a bouncer to first base for the final out in the eighth, wasting the Mets’ comeback chance. Yoenis Cespedes had walked on the eighth pitch of his at-bat from Barnes to load the bases in an inning Pete Alonso was drilled by a pitch and J.D. Davis singled.

For a second straight night Michael Conforto failed to deliver in a big spot. Conforto struck out against Barnes with two runners on base after the right-hander had fallen behind 3-1 in the count. Conforto struck out against Brandon Workman with the bases loaded in the ninth on Wednesday, contributing to the Mets’ 6-5 loss.

Yoenis Cespedes walks to the dugout after striking out during the Mets’ 4-2 loss to the Red Sox on Thursday night.Getty Images

Only adding to Thursday’s misery, Edwin Diaz allowed a run in the ninth on two walks, a single and a hit batter, departing with the bases loaded and one out. It was the latest flop by Diaz, who blew the save in Saturday’s loss to the Braves by allowing a home run to Marcell Ozuna with two outs in the ninth. Paul Sewald helped contain Thursday’s mess by entering to get the final two outs without another run scoring.

Veteran lefty Martin Perez, who pitched to a 5.12 ERA last year and was off to an equally lethargic start this year, frustrated the Mets by limiting them to two runs on two hits and four walks over 5 ²/₃ innings. Jeff McNeil’s two singles (one of which didn’t leave the infield) were the Mets’ only hits against Perez.

The Mets (3-4) lost their second straight and will play six consecutive games on the road beginning Friday in Atlanta. They split four games against the Red Sox, winning the two played in Boston.

In a mediocre performance, Steven Matz lasted 5 ¹/₃ innings and allowed three earned runs on eight hits with two walks and three strikeouts, departing after 104 pitches.

Matz slogged through his initial four innings, throwing 80 pitches, and fell into a 3-2 hole on Christian Vazquez’s second homer of the game, a towering two-run shot to left field that kept carrying over Davis’ head. The blast was Vazquez’s third in two days — he went deep against Seth Lugo a night earlier to tie the game in the seventh inning.

Vazquez’s second homer Thursday came on an 0-2 sinker. Xander Bogaerts had reached on an infield single leading off the inning.

Matz threw a 2-1 changeup down the middle in the second inning that Vazquez hammered for a solo homer. Matz also allowed an infield hit and walk in the inning before escaping.

McNeil’s two-run single in the third inning gave the Mets their scoring against Perez. In the inning, Wilson Ramos and Alonso each walked and Brandon Nimmo was hit by a pitch. McNeil delivered with an opposite field single to left that gave the Mets a 2-1 lead.

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