- Last Updated: 1:57 PM, June 26, 2012
- Posted: 2:33 AM, June 26, 2012
CHICAGO — Hiccup, hiccup, hiccup.
Last night, that was the sound of a sluggish team that may have inhaled too much chicken over the weekend. Mets manager Terry Collins even saw this coming, citing the “hoopla” and “adrenaline” of the Subway Series as a potential obstacle as his players prepared for the scuffling Cubs.
“We’re not going to let [Sunday’s] game or the chicken or anything else stand in the way of getting ready to play this series,” Collins said before a 6-1 loss to the Cubs at Wrigley Field. “Because this is where you can have a real hiccup, and we’re going to try and avoid that.”
The chicken, of course, referred to Tim Byrdak’s team mascot — which has since been sent to an animal sanctuary — that arrived in the clubhouse after Frank Francisco called the Yankees “chickens” in The Post. Maybe now the Mets are facing the chicken’s revenge.
“The adrenaline can knock you out for a while — and the fact they only got five or six hours of sleep didn’t help either,” Collins said after the Mets lost their third straight.
Nothing suggested that more than a lethargic seventh inning in which David Wright misplayed a routine popup near home plate into a three-base error before Lucas Duda butchered a pop to right field moments later — for another three-base error — and Ronny Cedeno mishandled a grounder for the inning’s third error. It left the Cubs with four gift runs and a 6-0 cushion.
Collins said he addressed his team about not getting complacent following a 12-13 stretch against playoff-caliber teams. Then came last night’s flop against a last-place team.
“They’ve played their hearts out and gotten us where we are, but they can’t stop now,” Collins said. “We can’t just sit on the last 25 days and the fact we have played all these teams that are in playoff contention. We’ve got to take a deep breath, reach inside, grab some energy and finish the first half strong.”
Lefty Travis Wood (2-3) handled the Mets over seven shutout innings in which he allowed five hits and walked one. The Mets got their only run on Ike Davis’ homer in the ninth.
“You get emotionally charged for the Subway Series and you have to try and bring that same intensity before it and after it and we didn’t do that today,” Wright said.
Johan Santana (5-4) had a second straight solid start, allowing a two-run homer to Joe Mather over six innings. It followed six shutout innings by the lefty to beat the Orioles last week at Citi Field.
“It was a tough night,” Santana said. “It was a little windy, I tried to get a feeling for the ball, it was a little dry, but other than that just trying to battle and trying to keep the ball down. It came down to a couple of pitches that changed the whole ballgame for me.”
The Mets’ chances unraveled in the seventh, with Jon Rauch on the mound. The inning’s leadoff hitter, Adrian Cardenas, hit a pop-up near the plate that Wright got under and completely missed. The ball rolled toward the backstop and Cardenas raced to third. Then, with one out, Darwin Barney hit a pop to right that Duda mishandled, bringing in the run and sending Barney to third. With the infield drawn in, Starlin Castro hit a chopper off Cedeno’s glove for the inning’s third error and second run. Jeff Baker added an RBI single later in the inning and Geovany Soto’s RBI fielder’s choice made it 6-0.
Santana was cruising until the fourth, when Mather hit his blast that put the Mets in a 2-0 hole. It was the ninth homer of the year surrendered by Santana, but his first since allowing four at Yankee Stadium on June 8.Follow @NYPostsports