DENVER -- Some losses are more bitter, frustrating and cruel than others. This one was all of that and more for the Mets, who were on the verge of a hugely satisfying victory only to suffer a heartbreaking defeat.
They squandered a big early lead, twice fought back to tie the game and went ahead in the ninth. But ultimately, the Mets lost, 11-10, when Rockies pinch-hitter Charlie Culberson hit a two-run homer off closer Kyle Farnsworth.
Culberson came to the plate batting .111 (3-for-27), since being recalled from Triple-A Colorado Springs on April 21. He fell into a 1-2 hole and then drove a fastball over the wall in center field. When Culberson, who had hit two homers in 148 Major League at-bats, connected, Farnsworth knew that a ball soaring through the light air at Coors Field could spell trouble.
"Every fly ball here is like that," Farnsworth said. "You just got to hold your breath, hope it stays in."
It didn't, and the Rockies, who overcame a six-run deficit with an eight-run fifth, capped by Nolan Arenado's grand slam, and who then lost leads of 8-6 and 9-8, erupted from their dugout in joy to meet the giddy Culberson at home plate.
"I don't hit many home runs, but for some reason right there, I hit it and I just knew it had to go out," Culberson said. "That's definitely the best feeling I've ever had in baseball."
Culberson's blast drove in Troy Tulowitzki, who had led off the inning with a single, his third hit of the game and No. 1,001 in his career. Tulowitzki tagged up and took second on Arenado's fly to deep center.
The Mets recorded a season-high 17 hits and had taken a 10-9 lead in the ninth on a two-out single by Juan Lagares, who had gone hitless in five previous at-bats with three strikeouts but extended his hitting streak to 12 games. He connected off closer LaTroy Hawkins, who took the mound with one out in the ninth and gave up a pinch-hit double to Bobby Abreu on a liner through the gap in left-center. Eric Young Jr. pinch-ran for Abreu and took third on a groundout.
The Mets tied the game at 9 on Chris Young's single with one out in the eighth. Jordan Pacheco put the Rockies ahead 9-8 in the seventh with a bases-loaded sacrifice fly.
The Mets, who scored seven runs while losing the first two games of this series, scored three runs in the first and three more in the third off starter Franklin Morales. David Wright, who went 3-for-5, doubled home a run in the first and Anthony Recker and Lucas Duda hit consecutive run-scoring singles with two out.
In the third, Curtis Granderson singled home a run, Recker followed with a run-scoring double, and with two out, the Mets scored an unearned run when third baseman Arenado made an error on Ruben Tejada's grounder.
Jenrry Mejia held the Rockies to three singles through four innings before they sent 11 batters to the plate and piled up eight runs in the fifth. Ryan Wheeler, who was recalled Friday and started in place of first baseman Justin Morneau, led off with a home run. Mejia gave up a single and a walk before pinch-hitter Brandon Barnes hit a slow grounder to shortstop and avoided a double play when first baseman Duda didn't handle the throw.
Charlie Blackmon flared a broken-bat single to short center to make it 6-2 and put runners on first and third for Drew Stubbs, who singled home a run. Carlos Gonzalez grounded a run-scoring single into right field. Mejia hit Tulowitzki with a pitch to load the bases for Arenado, who hit his second career grand slam and the Rockies' first of the season while extending his hitting streak to 23 games to tie Dante Bichette for the second-longest hitting streak in Rockies history.
"Once in a while they hit them where nobody is playing," Collins said about Mejia's outing. "I mean, he made good pitches. We got a double play. We should have been out of the inning. We drop a ball, and we couldn't get them out after that. It wasn't Jenrry's fault all the time. But the results are what they are."
That grand slam came on Mejia's 66th and last pitch and was the first grand slam he has surrendered in his career. He lasted 4 1/3 innings in his shortest start of the season.
"That's unbelievable. There's nothing I can do," Mejia said. "I think they hit good pitches. I changed my pitch sequence in the fifth inning. I started throwing two-seamers and changeups. And then in the fifth inning I threw my breaking ball. Everything was down. ... They got me. That's why I say, it's unbelievable."
The Mets will try to salvage a win Sunday and avoid being swept in the four-game series after this painful loss.
"It's tough, but I don't think it should be tough for us to bounce back tomorrow," Recker said. "We did a heck of a job today. You got to take the positives out of it, coming back. Team scored eight runs on you in an inning after you're up 6-0, that is tough to come back from but we did it two or three times. Honestly, we just ran out of innings tonight. I think we'll come out tomorrow and we'll get a win."
Jack Etkin is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.