BOSTON — The Mets survived the Boston Red Sox once, but couldn’t do it twice in one day.
The two teams split an abbreviated doubleheader Saturday at Fenway Park. The Mets got one win thanks to their bullpen, taking the first game 5-4. While Jeff McNeil’s little league home run highlighted the day, ultimately the Mets lost the nightcap, 8-6.
The Mets rallied to score three in the ninth, but Masataka Yoshida made a tough catch on a foul popup in by pinch-hitter Daniel Vogelbach to end the game.
Triston Casas’ second homer of the day off right-hander Max Scherzer doomed the Mets (46-52) in the sixth inning. He became the first rookie to ever homer twice off Scherzer in a single game.
Scherzer (8-4) gave up four home runs (five earned total) over six innings. The Red Sox (52-47) blasted three leadoff home runs with all three coming on different pitches — a curveball, a cutter and a slider.
“I was feeling the ball pretty well outside of those homers,” Scherzer said. “It’s one of those things where I’m just in a funk right now and I’m homer-prone.”
It was Boston’s rookie first baseman — a high school teammate of Mets infielder Mark Vientos — who got the better of the future hall-of-famer when he drove a 2-1 fastball 428 feet into the center field stands for a two-run shot that broke a 3-3 tie. Scherzer tried to go up and in; he missed down.
“I’ve got to get to that up and in quadrant better than I did tonight,” Scherzer said. “I get it, I own it. I’m not here to make excuses for it. I’ll answer for all of those pitches.”
One of the Mets’ most important starting pitchers has struggled with something different in each outing this season. The only thing he can point to is a lack of execution.
“It stands out because it’s not like him,” said manager Buck Showalter.
McNeil’s single with a two-base error in the fourth inning scored the Mets’ three runs. Facing left-hander James Paxton (6-3) with two on and two out, McNeil singled up the center and the Red Sox had a complete defensive breakdown. Center fielder Jarren Duran threw to the plate to try to prevent a run and catcher Jorge Alfaro overthrew second base, throwing the ball well past Duran to give McNeil enough time to come all the way around to score.
The bullpen has been anything but reliable for the Mets this season, but it was key to the first game, a continuation of Friday’s game after it was suspended due to weather. The Red Sox were held to one run in 5 2/3 innings after the game started in the bottom of the fourth.
“It’s one thing to map out potentially what you’d like to do,” Showalter said. “It’s another thing if you can get the other team to cooperate with it.”
The Red Sox might have cooperated, but little else did.
Utility infielder Luis Guillorme left the game in the bottom of the sixth with a strained calf and was placed on the 10-day injured list. The Mets recalled infielder Danny Mendick to take his place on the roster.
“I’m not happy about it,” Guillorme said. “Especially with things around this that happened around this time last year with my groin. It is what it is, but I’m not happy about it.”
The game resumed at 2:11 p.m., with the Mets leading 4-3 in the bottom of the fourth. Vogelbach had the go-ahead homer in the fourth inning Friday night, taking Kutter Crawford (4-5) for a two-run shot, his fifth of the season.
Rookie right-hander Grant Hartwig (3-1) picked up where Kodai Senga left off, throwing two scoreless innings to start the day.
“I was going until they told me I couldn’t,” Hartwig said. “That’s all I was planning to do and my job was to get it to the guys at the end of the game.”
There were missed opportunities on the part of the Mets, who left seven on base and went 5-for-17 with runners in scoring position. With only a two-run lead, Showalter was forced to go to his high-leverage pitchers to close out the game. Brooks Raley and David Robertson did their jobs effectively, with Robertson working his 14th save.
That left the Mets with low-leverage arms in the second game. Right-hander Trevor Gott faced four batters in the seventh and allowed three earned runs, including a two-run homer to former Mets third baseman Justin Turner. Gott has now given up six over his last 1 2/3 innings.
“Some counts are getting away from him, but he’s better than that,” Showalter said. “Sometimes things snowball and you get away from what you’re capable of and the norm of what you’ve done for a period of time. So we’ve got to figure that out and get him on track with what he’s capable of doing.”
The Mets haven’t gained much ground in the Wild Card standings, going 4-4 since the All-Star break, but the sense of urgency is still there.
“Every game right now is a must-win,” McNeil said.