When the Mets pulled RHP Noah Syndergaard (10-8, 4.15 ERA) after his 5.0 innings of four strikeouts and two walks were plagued by a four-run fourth inning in which he allowed Gavin Lux's three-run home run, manager Mickey Callaway called on New York's bullpen to keep the narrow deficit intact.
But as has been the case all season long, the team's biggest weakness surfaced once again.
Los Angeles piled on five more runs throughout the final four frames and pulled away for the Dodgers' 9-2 win in the weekend series opener Friday at Citi Field, leaving Callaway with a simple response when asked about the Mets' bullpen.
"We've been better," Callaway said.
After pulling Syndergaard, Callaway called for RHP Jeurys Familia, who started the top of the sixth inning with a 1-2-3 frame on three groundouts.
Familia (4-2, 6.04 ERA) continued to pound the zone against the Dodgers in the top of the seventh inning when Will Smith lined out to CF Juan Lagares and Clayton Kershaw struckout swinging.
"I thought Familia threw just about as well as he's thrown in a long time," Callaway said. "He did a great job."
But a two-out single by Joc Pederson from the leadoff spot led Callaway to remove Familia for LHP Luis Avilian against the heart of the Dodgers' order, starting off on the wrong foot with Max Muncy's walk.
Avilan's frame snowballed, surrendering a pair of two-out knocks to left field -- Chris Taylor's pinch-hit two-run double and Cody Bellinger's RBI single -- as the Dodgers cashed in and put up a 7-1 lead.
"I think that Familia had done his job," Callaway said. "If there wouldn't have been two outs, we wouldn't have let him face the top of the lineup even.
"He did his job. Now it's time for the next guy."
Callaway stood by his decision to pull Familia for Avilan (4-0, 5.22 ERA), who allowed the two runs on two hits before striking out Corey Seager.
The Mets tacked on a run in the bottom of the seventh inning thanks to Amed Rosario's single up the middle, scoring Michael Conforto and trimming the 7-2 deficit, but the damage was done -- RHP Walker Lockett (1-1, 7.17 ERA) went the last 2.0 innings, scattering three hits but allowing a two-run home run to the pinch-hitting Edwin Rios as the Dodgers polished off the 9-2 final.
"Obviously, Avilan threw quite a few pitches to get one out, so that was kind of tough," Callaway said. "And then Lockett gave up the two-run homer to the lefty that was kind of looming on the bench.
"That was tough for him, but he came back and threw a scoreless ninth."