Syracuse, NY (SYRACUSE METS) – The Syracuse Mets battled back valiantly but ultimately fell short on Sunday afternoon, dropping the series finale to the Durham Bulls (Triple-A Tampa Bay Rays), 7-6, in ten innings. It was a frustrating week for the Mets, who dropped five out of the six games in the series against the two-time defending International League champs.

Durham (13-7) got right to work in the top of the first inning, plating a run two batters into the game when Osleivis Basabe and Jose Siri had back-to-back doubles for a 1-0 lead.

Syracuse (11-10) answered back in the bottom of the first when DJ Stewart celebrated his return to the lineup with a game-tying solo home run. Stewart was activated off the injured list on Sunday afternoon not playing for the Mets since April 13th at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

From there, Durham grabbed a sizable advantage, scoring the next four runs in the game. An RBI double from Niko Hulsizer in the second made it 2-1, followed by a pivotal two-out, two-run double from Tanner Murray in the fourth that plated Nicki Dini and Hulszier who had both singled earlier in the frame to make it 4-1. A solo homer from René Pinto in the fifth vaulted the Bulls to a 5-1 advantage. Pinto had a brilliant week, smacking four home runs in the series.

While the bats for Durham were humming along, the Bulls starting pitcher was keeping the Mets off balance. Evan McKendry allowed just one run in five innings of work, walking two and allowing four hits while striking out three. It was the first start of the season for the right-hander, who had worked primarily out of the bullpen prior to Sunday afternoon.

Entering the bottom of the eighth, it was still a 5-1 game, with the comeback hopes for the Mets starting to drift away. However, in the fateful bottom of the eighth, Syracuse brought those hopes back to life. The Mets scored four runs in the inning to knot the game up at five, combining three hits with five walks to claw all the way back. Syracuse sent ten men to the plate in the inning, highlighted by RBI singles from Ronny Mauricio and Danny Mendick. It was a successful weekend both at the plate and the diamond for Mauricio. The 22-year-old made his professional debut at second base, handling each chance with relative ease. Mauricio also went a combined 4-for-10 at the plate on Saturday and Sunday with two stolen bases and two runs driven in.

However, an old problem continued to rear its ugly head for the Mets. Syracuse left the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth and the Mets would eventually leave 11 runners on base in the game. The Mets also left 11 runners on base in Saturday’s loss. Syracuse has left at least six runners on base in 13 of its 21 games this season. The Mets have also left double-digit runners on base in five games this year.

The game remained tied at five until the tenth when Durham pushed across two runs that proved to be just enough to win. Pinto started the inning as the free runner at second base, followed by a Kyle Manzardo walk that put two runners on base with nobody out. Tristan Gray then came on as a pinch-hitter and got the job done, singling into right field to plate Pinto and make it a 6-5 game. The Bulls didn’t settle there. Manzardo moved to third base on the single, and later in the frame, Hulsizer lofted a fly ball deep enough into right field to score Manzardo with a sacrifice fly and make it a 7-5 game. Hulsizer had an excellent afternoon at the plate, going 4-for-4 with three doubles, a run scored, and two runs driven in.

In the bottom of the tenth, Syracuse had one last rally left in them. José Peraza started the bottom of the tenth as the free runner at second, promptly swiping his way to third base with nobody out. After a strikeout, Jonathan Araúz hit a sharp grounder down the first-base line that looked destined to roll into the right-field corner for an extra-base hit. However, Manzardo had other plans at first base, making a brilliant diving stop to get Araúz at first base for the second out of the inning. Peraza did score to make it a 7-6 game, and Khalil Lee singled into right field to put the potential tying run on base with two outs. However, the next batter, Mendick, grounded out softly back to the pitcher to thwart the late comeback attempt for the Mets.

Syracuse returns to the road next week, playing six games from Tuesday through Sunday against the Triple-A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers, the Toledo Mud Hens. The first game in the week-long series is set for 6:05 p.m. on Tuesday.