NEW YORK — Matt Harvey has hit a major snag in his return from Tommy John surgery.
Brandon Belt launched one of San Francisco’s three homers off a struggling Harvey, who gave up seven runs for the second time in four starts during the New York Mets’ 8-5 loss on June 10.
The star right-hander, who missed last season while recovering from his reconstructive elbow operation, has allowed 18 earned runs over his last 18 innings.
“I’m not going to use that as an excuse,” Harvey said. “Just a terrible performance the last couple of starts. Extremely bad.”
The three homers allowed were a career high for Harvey (6-4), who is 1-3 with a 7.20 ERA in his last four outings after going 5-1 with a 1.98 ERA in his first eight starts this season. He has given up eight home runs since May 23, most of any pitcher in the majors during that span.
“With his stuff, you don’t get hit that hard unless the ball is in the middle of the plate,” Mets Manager Terry Collins said. “The guy pounds the strike zone, but you’ve got to keep it out of the middle if you can.”
One night after they were held hitless by Giants rookie Chris Heston, the Mets handed Harvey a 4-2 lead. He couldn’t hold it.
Buster Posey had three RBIs, including a two-run double off Harvey that tied the score in the sixth. Belt followed with a two-run shot, and Justin Maxwell added a long homer later in the inning to give San Francisco a 7-4 lead.
“Everything was all over the place,” Harvey said. “I’m just not doing my job very well. I’m just not getting it done, not helping the team in any way.”
He walked two and struck out a career-low two in six innings. The five runs in the sixth were the most Harvey has given up in one inning. He fell to 15-1 when the Mets score at least four runs for him.
“Something needs to change,” Harvey said. “We need to go back to square one and we are going to start tomorrow.”
Nori Aoki and Joe Panik combined to go 7 for 10 with a homer, four runs and two RBIs at the top of the Giants’ lineup.
“Those two really got us going,” Manager Bruce Bochy said. “Panik can do all the little things and Nori is such a tough leadoff hitter.”
Aoki’s four hits matched a career high.
Harvey gave up Panik’s two-run homer in the first on an 0-2 pitch, but the Mets tied it in the bottom half on Wilmer Flores’ two-run single off Tim Hudson (4-5).
“I definitely got the no-hitter conversation out of the way in the first,” Hudson said with a smile.
The Mets added runs in the fourth and fifth on RBI singles by Eric Campbell and Lucas Duda to take a 4-2 lead before the Giants jumped on Harvey in the sixth.
Panik led off with a single. Angel Pagan walked and, after falling behind 0-2, Posey calmly stroked a fastball into right for the tying double.
Posey came into the game batting .368 against Harvey. Belt then drove a change-up the other way to left-center for his eighth homer, putting the Giants ahead 6-4.
“I think he left a lot of balls where he didn’t want to,” Belt said.
Brandon Crawford was thrown out at third trying to stretch a double, and Matt Duffy flied out before Maxwell teed off for a shot to left.
After getting Hudson on a popup to end the inning, Harvey was done.
“We will start tomorrow,” he said. “We will flush the last couple of outings and start a new trend.”
Santiago Casilla closed for his 18th save in 21 opportunities.
Juan Lagares had an RBI triple in the eighth for the Mets, who have dropped four of five.
Flores led off the sixth with a double, chasing Hudson. But George Kontos struck out catcher Travis d’Arnaud, activated from the disabled list before the game, and retired Lagares on a grounder. Campbell struck out to end the threat.
After missing 46 games with a broken pinkie, d’Arnaud doubled and scored two runs in his return to the lineup.
“I felt like I had a few quality at-bats,” he said. “I hit a few balls hard, so I was very happy. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the win.”
Posey added an RBI single off Hansel Robles in the ninth.