NEW YORK -- If only the Miami Marlins played the Mets every day.
The Mets failed to protect an eighth-inning lead and were swept for the second straight weekend by the Marlins, this time with an 8-4 loss in 10 innings Sunday at Citi Field before an announced paid crowd of 21,747.
After Bobby Parnell allowed consecutive singles to open his second inning of work, Daniel Murphy errantly fielded Adeiny Hechavarria’s grounder to allow the go-ahead run to score from second base. Robert Carson entered and surrendered a sacrifice fly to Greg Dobbs and two-run homer to Miguel Olivo as the Marlins ultimately posted four runs in the 10th. Parnell was charged with three runs (two earned).
At least this time it did not take 20 innings, like Saturday’s loss.
Miami is 8-3 against the Mets and 10-41 against the rest of baseball this season.
The Mets (23-35) matched their season low-water mark at 12 games under .500, although they're still seven games ahead of the Marlins for fourth place in the National League East.
Fried rice: Scott Rice, summoned for his MLB-leading 34th relief appearance to begin the eighth with the Mets leading 4-3, surrendered a game-tying leadoff homer to Derek Dietrich and departed. Lefty batters had been hitting .143 (9-for-63) against Rice with one extra-base hit -- an April 5 double by Miami’s Rob Brantly -- before Dietrich’s homer.
Shouldering the load: Jonathon Niese, who missed his last rotation turn with a shoulder issue, then had his rotation reentry delayed by rain, allowed three runs (two earned) on eight hits and one walk while striking out four in 6 2/3 innings. He threw 103 pitches in what became a no-decision.
Niese made his first start since May 27.
The southpaw departed with a 4-3 lead in the seventh after allowing consecutive two-out singles to opposing pitcher Tom Koehler and Juan Pierre. LaTroy Hawkins entered and retired 31-year-old rookie Ed Lucas on a groundout to strand both inherited runners.
Niese had taken a 4-1 lead into the sixth, when he surrendered a two-run double to Marcell Ozuna. The second run was unearned because Juan Lagares misplayed the ball in right-center. Niese did strand Ozuna at third base to preserve the one-run lead. He retired Logan Morrison on a shallow flyout and coaxed a groundout to third from Justin Ruggiano.
Wright stuff: David Wright, who entered Sunday hitting only .200 (13-for-65) over his last 16 games, broke a 1-all tie in the third with a two-run double against Koehler.
Murphy, in his first start in the cleanup spot this season, followed with a run-scoring groundout as the Mets took a 4-1 lead. Murphy’s solo homer in the second accounted for the Mets’ opening run.
JV caliber: After bunting for a base hit in the first, Jordany Valdespin made the final out at third base that inning when he was caught stealing with Murphy at the plate.
Welcome back: Kirk Nieuwenhuis made his return as a pinch hitter in the 10th. He struck out.
What’s next: After an off-day Monday, the Mets welcome the St. Louis Cardinals. In Tuesday’s series opener, Jeremy Hefner (1-5, 4.36 ERA) opposes phenom Michael Wacha (1-5, 4.36) in the right-hander’s third major league start.