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Mets rally late, but Wheeler struggles in loss

MLB.com @AnthonyDiComo

NEW YORK -- At least some poeticism existed in the fact that it was Zack Wheeler who took the mound Friday night at Citi Field, some hours after Matt Harvey walked out of the stadium lacking a job. The two have been linked for most of their careers, headliners of a pitching revolution in Flushing. On the day Wheeler debuted in 2013, Harvey, at the height of his powers, struck out 13 in the other half of a doubleheader.

Five years later, neither is quite right. If Harvey is ever to return to form, he will do so for another team. Wheeler is simply trying to hold onto his own job after matching his career high with eight earned runs in an 8-7 loss to the Rockies, the Mets' fourth straight.

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NEW YORK -- At least some poeticism existed in the fact that it was Zack Wheeler who took the mound Friday night at Citi Field, some hours after Matt Harvey walked out of the stadium lacking a job. The two have been linked for most of their careers, headliners of a pitching revolution in Flushing. On the day Wheeler debuted in 2013, Harvey, at the height of his powers, struck out 13 in the other half of a doubleheader.

Five years later, neither is quite right. If Harvey is ever to return to form, he will do so for another team. Wheeler is simply trying to hold onto his own job after matching his career high with eight earned runs in an 8-7 loss to the Rockies, the Mets' fourth straight.

View Full Game Coverage

Three Rockies reached base before Wheeler recorded an out, and all nine starters batted in a five-run first. Between Charlie Blackmon's leadoff homer in the second inning and Tony Wolters' solo shot in the sixth, Wheeler retired 12 of 15. But the cumulative damage pushed his ERA up to 5.79 in five starts.

"First-inning troubles have been the story for me this year so far," said Wheeler, who intends to shorten up his pregame throwing routine before future starts. "If I can get that figured out and ironed out, I think I'll be ready to go."

Video: COL@NYM: Cabrera belts a 2-run homer to right field

With that as their backdrop, the Mets' offense struggled to provide an antidote until late. After Asdrubal Cabrera's two-run homer in the first snapped their 18-inning scoreless streak, the Mets went quietly against Rockies starter German Marquez, who lasted six innings. They did not score again until Todd Frazier hit a two-run homer off Chris Rusin in the eighth. Although the Mets plated three more to come within a run in the ninth, Colorado closer Wade Davis struck out Michael Conforto swinging to end the game.

Video: Frazier's two-run blast

"I'm proud of the way the guys battled back there in the ninth," Conforto said. "I wanted to come through for them, but in that situation, it didn't happen."

Video: COL@NYM: Davis fans Conforto to earn his 12th save

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Trailing by four runs in the ninth, the Mets invigorated the Citi Field crowd when Wilmer Flores doubled, Amed Rosario singled and, with one out, Cabrera hit an RBI triple. A walk and a Frazier single moved the Mets within one, bringing Conforto to the plate with the potential tying run -- pinch-runner Jose Reyes, who danced down the third-base line in an attempt to distract Davis -- less than 90 feet away.

Video: COL@NYM: Frazier rips an RBI single to left field

Conforto fell into an 0-2 hole, worked it even, then swung through a 90-mph cutter to end the game.

Finishing 0-for-5 with four strikeouts, Conforto is 0-for-12 in his past three games, and he is batting just .187 this season. Manager Mickey Callaway plans to give him a "mental day" off on Saturday.

"Obviously, this isn't the way I wanted to start," said Conforto, who dismissed the notion that he is suffering any lingering effects from the left shoulder surgery he underwent last summer. "I'm just trying to grind through it. I've been coming every day, doing some extra stuff, just trying to work on being a little bit more consistent. I've been through stretches like this before. I think it's just part of the game."

SOUND SMART
Rockies hitters went 6-for-13 off Wheeler's four-seam fastball in the game, raising MLB's average against that pitch to .375. No pitcher who has ended at least 40 at-bats with four-seam fastballs has allowed a higher average against them.

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Jay Bruce's season debut at first base was plenty eventful. In the first inning, he made an awkward pursuit of Ian Desmond's double, tumbling to the turf as Brandon Nimmo called him off a bit too late from right field. But Bruce made up for it two innings later, making a diving stop to rob Wolters of an RBI hit. The Mets shifted Bruce from right field to first base to create opportunity for Nimmo, who started just his seventh game of the season.

Video: COL@NYM: Bruce lays out to rob Wolters of a base hit

HE SAID IT
"We've got to keep our heads down and keep moving. It's unfortunate to see something like that happen, but it's part of the game. You never want to see that happen, but we've got to keep pushing and try to win some games." -- Wheeler, on Harvey's departure

Video: Anderson, Callaway discuss the decision to DFA Harvey

UP NEXT
After skipping his last outing due to back tightness, Steven Matz will return to start the Mets' 7:10 p.m. ET game Saturday against the Rockies. Matz hasn't pitched since April 25, when he allowed seven runs (three earned) in 3 1/3 innings to call his rotation spot into question. He'll oppose right-hander Chad Bettis at Citi Field.

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.

New York Mets