NEW YORK -- The New York Mets entered the second half with a supposedly soft remaining schedule. They had yet to see the Arizona Diamondbacks. They had yet to see the Pittsburgh Pirates. They had yet to see the Houston Astros.
Two weeks later, how's that working out?
Four times the Mets have faced the Diamondbacks since the All-Star break.
Four times the Mets have lost.
That includes Friday's 9-6 defeat at Citi Field, during which left-handed reliever Raul Valdes served up two homers in a five-run sixth inning that erased an early lead provided by a pair of David Wright shots.
While the Diamondbacks are 4-0 against the Mets, Arizona has lost its past 11 games against other opponents.
With National League East leader Atlanta's win against Cincinnati on Friday, the Mets have fallen 7½ games out in the division race. They trail by nearly as much in the wild-card race.
No notable addition is expected by Saturday's 4 p.m. ET non-waiver trading deadline, either.
The likely lack of reinforcements has to be demoralizing, especially when you consider the Philadelphia Phillies acquired another ace, Roy Oswalt, and the Yankees have brought in Austin Kearns and, according to ESPN's Buster Olney, Lance Berkman.
"You're always looking for help. I don't think there's any question about that," said Wright, whose five RBIs on Friday were the most by a Met this season. "We don't make the decisions as players. [GM] Omar [Minaya] and the front office, they have their pulse on what's going on in here. They know that I think we can obviously use some help. But if you can't make a deal, you can't make a deal. You don't want to jeopardize the future -- near or distant -- going out and trying to get a guy that you might not want to give whatever they're asking for. I don't try to play GM. But there are 30 teams that are probably looking to make improvements. I'm sure we're one of them. If we make a deal, great. If not, we're going to go out there and battle with what we have."
Before the game, while managing to maintain a straight face, manager Jerry Manuel contended the Mets could match up with the Phillies rotation-wise if only Mike Pelfrey duplicated the first-half performance that at one point allowed him to surge to a 9-1 record.
Manuel didn't get that type of performance from Pelfrey on Friday.
Pelfrey had thrown 51 pitches in the first inning in a career-low 1 1/3-inning start in Arizona during the Mets' 2-9 road trip to open the second half. This time, Pelfrey required 39 pitches to navigate a three-run first inning.
The Mets nonetheless took a 5-4 lead into the sixth inning on the strength of Wright's two homers and five RBIs.
Then, however, opposing pitcher Ian Kennedy reached against Pelfrey on an error by shortstop Jose Reyes. With two out in the sixth, Valdes relieved Pelfrey and promptly served up a two-run homer to Kelly Johnson. By the time the inning had ended, Valdes also had surrendered a three-run homer to Miguel Montero.
"I had somebody tell me tonight that if we're going to go where we want to go, I have to get right," Pelfrey said. "I know I need to do that. I feel like I'm getting there. I know July is almost up, so we're getting late into the year. I definitely plan on getting this thing turned around and getting back on the right track so we can start winning some games."