Mets' Bay on bench with game on line

CINCINNATI -- Jason Bay spent the final three innings of Wednesday's matinee relegated to being a $66 million spectator, while wearing what he labeled his "cheerleading cap."

Before Mets manager Jerry Manuel pulled the left fielder in the seventh inning, Bay acknowledged, he had not been contributing much with his bat anyway.

Bay went 0-for-4, stranded six runners in his final three at-bats and his average slipped to .238 as the Mets lost the rubber game of their series, 5-4 in 10 innings to the Cincinnati Reds.

After the Mets tied it in the ninth on Jeff Francoeur's sacrifice fly against closer Francisco Cordero, the decisive blow came an inning later when Orlando Cabrera homered off the left-field foul pole on a 3-1 fastball from left-hander Pedro Feliciano.

The Mets, who went 2-4 on their road trip to Philadelphia and Cincinnati, suffered both of their losses at Great American Ball Park in walk-off fashion. Laynce Nix had an 11th-inning homer off Manny Acosta in the series opener. The last time the Mets had been victimized by two walk-off homers in the same road series: 10 years ago, when St. Louis' Jim Edmonds twice accomplished it.

"I just wanted to throw a fastball in, trying to jam him," Feliciano said. "He surprised me, and he had a quick bat and hit it out."

Said Manuel: "To some degree we've pitched well. We've played good defense. The baserunning has been good. We just, for the most part, haven't had that big hit to break it open or put us on top."

That issue starts with Bay, who has been in a season-long rut. He has only nine RBIs and is in an 0-for-14 skid.

Bay left the bases loaded in the third inning when he flied out to right field against right-hander Johnny Cueto. He then struck out his next two at-bats, each time with a runner in scoring position.

After Bay made the final out in the seventh with the Mets trailing 4-3, Manuel removed him from the game and used the No. 4 slot in the batting order for Hisanori Takahashi, who went on to toss three scoreless innings of relief. Manuel suggested he never would have removed his cleanup hitter with the Mets trailing by a run at that point had Bay not been in such a deep rut.

"It's painful," Bay said. "There's a lot of guys doing a lot of good things to help us win, offensively, and I'm not one of them. And I know I'm a big part of it. I go out there and we work on stuff and try this and try that, and I go out there hoping it turns around. But, right now, it's a massive funk.

"Like I've said before, you can't run and hide. I can deal with myself struggling, but when you're losing ballgames and you're coming up in big situations with chances to help your team and you're not doing anything, it makes it even worse.

"I guess the off-day comes at a good time for me. Hopefully I'll get it turned around. It's been a constant battle since Day 1."

As for being pulled from the game, Bay added: "You're scuffling a little bit and you want to help out. No question. But I completely understand the move. That's baseball. I went out there and put a cheerleading cap on and tried to help that way."

Manuel said he's not considering tinkering with the lineup to de-emphasize Bay.

"The only way to get out of it is to keep going up there," the manager said.

Said Bay: "The funny part is I've been seeing more fastballs because I can't hit it. I'm struggling on hitting the fastball right now. People do their research and they know that. ... I'm getting pitches to hit. I'm just not hitting them."

The Mets now have an off-day Thursday before opening a homestand with the San Francisco Giants. Bay said he will "absolutely not" do anything baseball related before reporting for work at Citi Field.

"I've got two kids that are dying for me to get home," he said. "That'll help take your mind off it for a bit and come back on Friday with a clean slate."

Adam Rubin covers the Mets for ESPNNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.