"I don't know what we're in need of besides playing better baseball, maybe an exorcism or something, but we've crossed over into that bad side," Wednesday's starter Brandon McCarthy said. "Obviously morale is low and you've got a team that's fighting and doing everything we can to climb out of it, but we just can't seem to climb out of it really, in any sense. I don't know what it will take, but right now we're searching.
For the first five games of the homestand, it was easy to blame the starting rotation for not being able to get the job done. But Thursday, it was the offense that had to shoulder the responsibility.
McCarthy (0-3) was not exactly sharp, but he did keep his team in the game, allowing three runs over 5 2/3 innings.
"Mac threw good enough to win the game," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "We played poorly. We continue to play poorly. We made mistakes. We ran into an out, we made a couple of errors, we're not able to contain guys running the bases and we're unable to throw the ball to first base. So as hard as they keep fighting, when you shoot yourself in the foot, it's tough."
Mets starter Dillon Gee (1-0) was perfect before allowing a two-out double to Martin Prado in the fifth.
In the sixth, it looked like the D-backs might get something going with two outs when Gerardo Parra blooped a single to center, but Parra was thrown out trying to stretch the hit into a double. The aggressive baserunning seemed like a poor choice with his team down 3-0.
"You have to understand what the scoreboard tells you," Gibson said of the play.
Then in the seventh, Paul Goldschmidt doubled off the wall in center with one out, but Miguel Montero's blast to right was caught in front of the wall by a leaping Andrew Brown.
"He was getting ahead," Goldschmidt said of Gee. "First time through he threw a lot of fastballs, second time through he mixed it up and threw a lot of breaking balls and the third time we hit him a little bit and got some guys on. He did a good job keeping guys off balance, mixing it up, using both sides of the plate."
Gee allowed just three hits and did not walk a batter in seven innings.
"I felt pretty good today," Gee said. "I've definitely been working pretty hard lately. It all kind of clicked today and I felt pretty good."
Getting things to click is something that has not happened for the D-backs yet this year, and the struggles have taken their toll.
"You get worn down mentally when you're not performing well by yourself, and when the whole team is doing it and everybody around you is in that same boat, the team isn't winning and really nothing positive is happening, you don't have anything to hang onto," McCarthy said. "It does kind of carry over and it's an extreme mental battle to just try and minimize things as much as we can and focus on the smallest things that we can control, which is what we're all doing. Hopefully it turns itself soon."
The D-backs had a chance to rally in the eighth when Prado and Tony Campana sandwiched a Cliff Pennington flyout with a pair of singles.
But Kyle Farnsworth got pinch-hitter Eric Chavez to strike out looking, and lefty specialist Scott Rice got Parra to ground out to end the threat.
And the D-backs gave the Mets a pair of insurance runs in the ninth when closer Addison Reed threw wildly to first on a routine grounder back to the mound, the second time in the series that a pitcher had made such an error.
Aaron Hill and Goldschmidt greeted Mets closer Jose Valverde with back-to-back homers in the bottom of the ninth, but Valverde wrapped up the sweep.
"There's no easy answer," Goldschmidt said. "Guys are definitely trying their best and doing everything they can, so hopefully it will turn around."