Mets can't score, 20 innings and counting vs. Cubs

NEW YORK -- What's worse than a shutout loss?

A shutout loss in extra innings.

And that sums up the past two days for the New York Mets, who have a pitching staff good enough to contend for a pennant and a lineup that looks like a Triple-A group right now, simply overmatched by the competition.

A day after falling 1-0 to the Chicago Cubs, the Mets found an even more painful way to lose, 2-0 to the Cubs in 11 innings.

Late Tuesday night, Mets manager Terry Collins lost his cool and used a profanity in his postgame news conference. On Wednesday night he remained calm but still had no explanation for the Mets' struggles at the plate.

"When you're not scoring, the one thing we talked about for three days was trying to do something different," Collins said. "Whatever we've been doing hasn't been working."

Collins tried to do something different in the bottom of the eighth inning Wednesday, with the game still scoreless. Ruben Tejada led off against Cubs reliever Pedro Strop, reaching on an error, and then Daniel Murphy's double gave the Mets runners on second and third with one out.

The next batter, John Mayberry Jr., had poor numbers against Strop, so Collins turned to Darrell Ceciliani to pinch-hit. And what's more, Collins decided to call a squeeze play.

"I said, this guy can handle the bat a bit, let's do something we haven't done all year and try to squeeze," Collins said. "We just didn't execute it."

Ceciliani couldn't put his bat on an outside breaking ball, and Tejada was caught in a rundown. Murphy was ruled safe at third after initially being called out, but then Ceciliani ended up striking out anyway, ending the inning.

"We gave it a shot, it didn't work," Collins said. "We'll continue to press forward and try to come up with some answers."

That's what it has come to for Collins -- trying to literally squeeze life out of a bunch of players who have been bad for a while now.

The Mets are averaging just 1.7 runs in their past 13 games and are second-to-last in the National League in runs scored this season, ahead of only the woeful Philadelphia Phillies.

First baseman Lucas Duda had a particularly rough night, going 0-for-5 with four strikeouts, but at least he showed accountability after the game.

"Yeah, it's tough -- essentially it's centered on me, I'm not getting the job done," Duda said. "I'm not moving guys over, I'm not getting guys in. A pretty tough month, actually. But I'm gonna continue to work hard, prepare like I do, and I have a good feeling it's gonna change here soon."

Duda can do better, but the problem is way bigger than him. The Mets were hoping Murphy's return from a three and a half-week DL stint Tuesday would jumpstart the lineup. It's done anything but, despite his three hits in two games.

"If I had the answer, if [hitting coach] Kevin [Long] had the answer, we would give it," Murphy said. "But come out tomorrow and battle again, that's all you can do.

"I know you guys are asking, and I've got nothing for you. Just come out here and keep grinding out at-bats, that's all you can do."

There appears to be little more that Collins can do at this point with this group. He did promise changes for Thursday's series finale.

"We've gotta flip-flop some guys somehow [in the batting order], just to do nothing but shake it up a little bit," Collins said.

It's worth a shot. But as long as the pieces are the same, the safe bet is a similar result.