DENVER — Coors Field took over on Saturday, producing the kind of wild Old West free-for-all that included a spirited comeback by the Mets that ultimately was wasted.
Jeff Brigham has been among the Mets’ most effective relievers this season, but given a seventh-inning lead on this night the right-hander buckled, surrendering a two-run homer to Ryan McMahon from which his team never recovered in a 10-7 loss to the Rockies between the raindrops.
The Mets had rebounded from the early six-run hole in which co-ace Justin Verlander had buried them to go ahead in the seventh, but had no answers in their final two at-bats.
The Rockies also scored twice against Drew Smith in the eighth.
“I’m just bummed that the guys fought back and got us the lead and I gave it right back,” said Brigham, who had allowed only one run over his previous 10 appearances.
There were plenty of offensive highlights for the Mets (27-26), but they were largely obscured by Verlander’s second ugly start in his last three and the letdown by the bullpen.
Verlander through five starts owns a 4.80 ERA.
Buck Showalter cited the altitude and the trouble pitchers have spinning the baseball in Colorado, but Verlander wouldn’t use the Coors Field factor as an excuse.
“You try to take away positives and that is kind of the low-hanging fruit,” Verlander said. “I felt like I didn’t make some pitches when I could have, particularly a couple of sliders that stayed closer to the zone than I would have liked. That sometimes happens here and you don’t get the break on them. I appreciate [Showalter] saying that, but for me it was more than just that. I just didn’t quite execute.”
Starling Marte’s RBI single in the seventh, after his team had completely erased a six-run deficit the previous inning, gave the Mets their first lead of the night at 7-6.
Jeff McNeil scored the go-ahead run after he had been running during Brett Baty’s at-bat and reached second on Baty’s chopper to first that otherwise might have been a force play on the lead runner.
The Mets scored five times in the sixth to tie it 6-6.
Francisco Alvarez delivered the big hit, a game-tying three-run homer to left field.
The homer was the seventh this season for Alvarez, who entered with a 1.032 OPS in 19 games in May.
Baty and Mark Vientos, the other two members of the “Baby Mets,” also contributed to the comeback in the inning. Baty stroked an RBI double and Vientos’ two-out single helped keep the inning alive.
“These guys, it’s a special group, and it’s one of those ballgames and Coors Field is one of those places you are never out of the game,” Verlander said. “It’s easy to mail it in in those situations as an offense so to be able to stay focused and have good at-bats and give us a hell of a chance to win a baseball game, it was impressive.”
Verlander allowed six earned runs on nine hits and one walk with two strikeouts over five innings.
The best that could be said of his performance was he stayed in the game to get the Mets through the fifth after the Rockies battered him in the second and third innings.
Verlander’s night unraveled in the second inning when the Rockies sent nine batters to the plate and scored five runs. McMahon struck out to begin the inning, but it went downhill from there for Verlander.
Randal Grichuk, Harold Castro and Nolan Jones all singled in succession, with the last of those hits giving the Rockies a 1-0 lead.
Alan Trejo then jumped on an 0-2 slider for an RBI double. Verlander walked the No. 9 hitter, Ezequiel Tovar, to load the bases before Charlie Blackmon doubled in two runs, burying the Mets in a four-run hole.
Jurickson Profar’s sacrifice fly — a ball on which Marte leaped to save an extra-base hit — got the Rockies’ lead to 5-0 before Verlander retired Elias Diaz on a hard-hit ball to center on the right-hander’s 37th pitch of the inning.
Alvarez’s celebration in the third inning after hitting an apparent triple cost the Mets an opportunity at a run. Alvarez hit a ball into the right-center gap and kept running until he had reached third base, sliding in head first.
But the Rockies challenged that Alvarez had remained on the bag and replay confirmed that with the tag still on him Alvarez had removed his left hand from the base briefly as he was beginning a celebratory gesture with his right hand.
Verlander’s misery continued in the third on Jones’ RBI double after McMahon and Castro had both singled.
Verlander saved another run from scoring in the inning by knocking down Trejo’s comebacker and throwing out Castro at the plate.
Pete Alonso blasted MLB-leading homer No. 20 to pull the Mets within 6-1 in the fourth inning. The blast was Alonso’s seventh in his last 11 games and gave him 46 RBIs, which leads the National League.
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