NEW YORK -- Terry Collins wondered how his players were still standing. After watching them fight through a 15-inning battle against Arizona on Thursday in a game that capped a series of long rain delays and extra-inning affairs, the Mets manager didn't deny the toll this recent stretch has taken on his team.
"I've never been through two weeks of more grueling baseball than we've been through," Collins said. "We still have to be proud of the fact that we battled, we hung in there, we had chances, lots of chances. One of those days."
It was a 5-4 loss that saw his team miss opportunities at the plate, put up a fight in extra innings and eventually walk off the field with whatever energy they had left.
By the time Scott Rice gave up a game-winning RBI single to D-backs shortstop Cliff Pennington in the top of the 15th inning, most of the 22,224 fans in attendance had gone home. The fans who stayed watched starter Dillon Gee pitch a stellar performance, allowing just two runs on six hits with two walks and seven strikeouts over seven innings. Then they almost watched an entirely new game as the Mets fought in extras.
"This whole homestand, we've had some long games. Right there, you feel for those guys who go out there and give it their all," Gee said. "Obviously you can't even imagine how tired they are, but you see them battling to the end. It's awesome."
Gee hit a RBI single off Ian Kennedy in the fifth that tied the game at 2. It would stay that way for eight more innings. Collins brought David Aardsma in to pitch the 13th inning. He ended up walking Arizona center fielder Cody Ross with the bases loaded to give the D-backs a 3-2 lead. It looked like that would be it for the Mets, who left 14 runners on base. With the chances they had missed all game, they didn't look like a team that would be in position to scratch out a third run.
But in the bottom of the 13th, the Mets responded.
Catcher Anthony Recker, who was 0-for-5 entering the frame, turned around a 2-1 pitch from D-backs closer Heath Bell and sent into the seats in left field to tie the game at 3.
"I was just trying to do whatever I could," Recker said. "He throws a lot of fastballs -- I was looking for a fastball, hoping I could get something above the plate I could put a good swing on. I wouldn't say I was swinging for the fences, but it worked."
But Arizona answered back.
Mets reliever Brandon Lyon gave up an RBI single to D-backs second baseman Martin Prado to give Arizona the 4-3 lead in the 14th. The Mets still had something left in the tank.
In the bottom half off the inning, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who had a walk-off home run against the Cubs on June 16, hit a home run over the left-center-field wall to tie the game at 4.
"... They hit the second one, and you just got to tell yourself, 'We can take it,'" D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "You learn a lot about yourself in series like this and days like this."
Collins brought in Scott Rice to pitch the top of the 15th. Rice gave up three consecutive singles, the last an RBI hit to Pennington that gave Arizona its margin of victory.
Gibson brought in Brad Ziegler to pitch the bottom half of the inning. Once again, the Mets were putting together a comeback. They had runners at second and third with two outs, but Ziegler got Nieuwenhuis to ground out to first.
That ended a draining four-game series that included two extra-inning games -- the other being the Mets' 5-4 win in 13 on Monday -- and three hours and 32 minutes worth of rain delays.
The disappointing end to the homestand followed up a road trip that ended with the Mets playing in three different time zones in three days. Now the Mets have to travel to play the Brewers. If this were any other series at any other point in the year, they might already be there.
"Right now, we should've been sitting in the hotel in Milwaukee. And we haven't left here," Collins said. "They're tired."
Chris Iseman is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.