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On rainy night, Cole Hamels struggles with Mother Nature and Mets as Phillies fall 6-1

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PHILADELPHIA - Cole Hamels couldn't beat Mother Nature or the New York Mets on Tuesday.

Pitching on a cold, rainy night, Hamels (0-2) struggled in his first home start of the season and lasted just 4 2-3 innings for the Philadelphia Phillies in a 6-1 loss to the Mets. The left-hander allowed six runs and eight hits with five walks and a hit batter.

"The elements got the best of me today," Hamels said. "From my standpoint, I'm truly embarrassed because I didn't really give anyone a chance."

Seeking his 100th career victory, Hamels lost the strike zone in the fourth when he walked four batters, including opposing pitcher Jonathon Niese with the bases loaded, as the Mets took a 3-0 lead.

"Just seemed to start labouring," Philadelphia manager Ryne Sandberg said. "He talked a little bit about losing the right grip on the baseball. He tried to fight through it, and I tried to allow him to stay in there and get one out in the bottom of the order to get through five innings, but he just wasn't able to do it."

The start was delayed by rain for 1 hour, 28 minutes, and the temperature at first pitch was a chilly 46 degrees. Many in the announced crowd of 28,189 who braved the cold were dressed more appropriately for a Philadelphia Eagles football game in December, with hooded sweat shirts, winter coats and wool blankets.

There was a misty rain for the first 2 1/2 innings before heavy rain began to fall in the bottom of the third. The rain tapered off to a drizzle before becoming heavy again in the seventh.

Hamels was making his second start of the season after opening on the disabled list due to left biceps tendinitis. The lefty's ERA rose to 6.75 as he dropped to 2-8 in his last 10 home starts against the Mets.

"I've never seen Cole be that erratic, and I'm sure a lot of that was the conditions," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "It's early in the year and he missed a lot of spring training. He'll be fine, I'm sure."

Hamels said the conditions made it difficult to pitch but blamed himself for not being able to adjust better. He said a lack of perspiration made gripping the ball difficult.

"When you're able to perspire, you're able to get certain types of grips with the baseball," he said, before joking: "Today might have been the day to use pine tar, but unfortunately I don't do that. It might have been the day to learn. It was difficult to throw the baseball and difficult to throw strikes. You have to be able to battle out there, and I wasn't able to do it."

Niese pitched seven steady innings and Daniel Murphy had three hits to lead New York.

Ruben Tejada doubled and had two RBIs for the surprising Mets, who have won seven of nine. They improved to 15-11 overall, marking the first time New York has been four games over .500 since July 14, 2012.

"Conditions are really tough and Jon just keeps cruising along," Collins said. "You have to be pretty impressed with the way he's going about it. He used all of his pitches. It seemed like he had good command of his curveball even though it was wet. ... He went out and pitched another great game."

Marlon Byrd homered and Ryan Howard had two hits with a double for Philadelphia, which lost for only the third time in nine games.

The weather hardly affected Niese (2-2), who didn't allow a hit until Byrd's two-out homer in the fourth. The left-hander gave up four hits while striking out five and walking one.

"It was another cold one," Niese said, "but it seems like the more I pitch in cold weather, the more I figure out how to stay warm."

Niese sat near a heater in the Mets' dugout and kept his hands in his jacket pockets, which contained hand warmers. While on the mound, Niese said he made sure to move around constantly rather than stand still.

"I was able to effectively throw my pitches," he said.

Murphy had a two-out RBI single in the third, and Josh Satin singled home a run in the fourth.

Byrd's homer pulled the Phillies to 3-1, but New York chased Hamels when it got an RBI double from Chris Young and a two-run single from Tejeda to make it 6-1 in the fifth.

NOTES: Mets RHP Bartolo Colon (2-3, 4.50 ERA) is scheduled to face RHP Kyle Kendrick (0-2, 3.52) in the conclusion of the two-game series Wednesday night. ... During the rain delay, the Phillies showed Game 6 of the NHL playoff series between the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers on the scoreboard and rang the bell in centre field traditionally rung for home runs when Wayne Simmonds scored a first-period goal to give the Flyers a 1-0 lead.

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