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Turned around: Zack Wheeler hit hard in worst start of career, Mets lose to Oakland 8-5

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NEW YORK, N.Y. - Zack Wheeler followed up the best outing of his brief career with his worst.

Yoenis Cespedes hit a three-run double, Brandon Moss had a two-run homer and the Oakland Athletics jumped all over an ineffective Wheeler in the first two innings of an 8-5 win over the New York Mets on Wednesday night.

"He struggled with all of his pitches," manager Terry Collins said. "I have never seen him get hit that hard."

Coming off a three-hitter in a 1-0 win at Miami last Thursday, his first complete game in the majors, the 24-year-old Wheeler had command problems right away. He missed badly with his first two pitches in the first inning to Moss, who drove the next one deep into the second deck in right field for his 18th home run.

Wheeler (3-8) issued a leadoff walk to Josh Reddick in the second and another free pass after Coco Crisp's RBI single. Cespedes followed by lining a bases-loaded double down the left-field line to make it 6-0.

Convinced the A's were picking up signs, Wheeler called catcher Travis d'Arnaud out to the mound and struck out the next two batters.

"They were onto my signs in the second. It's my fault for not catching onto it sooner. The next few pitches after we changed them up were good. When somebody turns on a 96 mph fastball, they probably knew it was coming," Wheeler said. "It was just a bad outing."

When the Mets loaded the bases in the bottom half, Wheeler was lifted for a pinch-hitter. He was tagged for six hits and a career-high six earned runs in two innings, the shortest of his 33 career starts.

"I'm already over this, to be honest with you. It's time to get ready for my next start," Wheeler said. "They just had me, that's all."

After the Mets scored 21 runs in their previous two games, Oakland rebounded from its most lopsided loss of the season to split the two-game interleague series — boosting the best record in baseball to 48-30.

Wheeler's dud ended a weeklong run of stingy starts by New York pitchers

"He just didn't bounce back. He didn't have it going tonight," Collins said. "He left a lot of balls in the middle of the plate."

Crisp homered and had three hits as the AL West leaders built an eight-run cushion for Brad Mills (1-0), who took a shutout into the seventh for his first major league victory since July 8, 2012, for the Los Angeles Angels.

Pinch-hitter Lucas Duda chased Mills with a three-run homer in the seventh.

"It was all location. It was the right pitch selection, just he hung the cutter-slider thing that he throws," A's catcher John Jaso said. "He knows it. Duda knows it, too."

Chris Young connected for a two-run shot in the eighth, his third home run in two nights.

Curtis Granderson added three hits for the Mets, who had won three straight and five of six. It was their sixth three-game winning streak of the season, but they haven't won four in a row since July 7-10 last year.

Sean Doolittle struck out all three hitters in the ninth for his 11th save, extending his scoreless streak to 25 1-3 innings. He has retired 37 of his last 38 batters — and racked up 53 strikeouts against one walk in 37 innings this season.

Crisp hit a solo homer in the fourth off Dana Eveland.

NOTES: After the game, New York optioned backup infielder Wilmer Flores to Triple-A Las Vegas to make room for CF Juan Lagares (right ribcage), who will be activated from the disabled list Thursday before the Mets open a four-game series in Pittsburgh. Lagares was unable to play Wednesday on his rehab assignment because Double-A Binghamton was rained out. ... RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka (3-1, 2.68 ERA) starts Thursday against Pirates RHP Vance Worley (1-0, 1.98). ... 3B David Wright had an RBI in his previous seven games, matching the best streak of his career. ... Granderson has reached safely in a career-best 33 consecutive starts.

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