Mike Pelfrey stood at his locker while being interviewed and stared across the clubhouse offering responses in hushed tones. It was a scene that had played out in the past.

On this day, Pelfrey was the subtext to the Mets’ 8-5 loss to Philadelphia because of his maddening inconsistency. He displayed stretches of dominance — such as the eight consecutive retired batters between the third and fifth innings — interspersed with two hits allowed to Phillies starter Kyle Kendrick (5-4) and a one out, three-run homer to Michael Martinez in the fifth. The home run was Martinez’s first in the major leagues.

“I don’t know,” Pelfrey said when asked about trying to find consistency. “I wasn’t sharp again. I made a mistake and he hit it. Have to go out there and execute pitches which I didn’t do very well [yesterday].”

Three-and-a-half hours after Pelfrey threw a 93 MPH sinker that Jimmy Rollins watched sail into Ronny Paulino’s glove on the game’s first pitch, the Mets had lost two-of-three in the series to fall to 47-47 on the season.

The Mets did not have David Wright, Carlos Beltran or Jose Reyes in the lineup. Wright continued his rehab from a lower back stress fracture last night in Single-A St. Lucie. Beltran missed the last two games of the series with the flu. He arrived at the park, according to Terry Collins, and received an IV. But the manager “was not sure he’ll be in there [today].”

Reyes, who has not played since July 2 with a strained hamstring, ran the bases before the game and reported that he was fine. He will play for Single-A Brooklyn tonight and, depending on how he feels, could return to the Mets’ depleted lineup Tuesday for the start of their three-game series against the Cardinals.

The standings may suggest that these four games are vital to the Mets’ playoff hopes, but the Mets have won 42 of its last 75 games on grit and are still .500. They are good enough to compete on a game-to-game basis, but not good enough to compete come October. There is no shame in that. Twenty-two of the sport’s 30 teams won’t compete in October.

To judge this campaign negatively because the Mets won’t be a playoff team is short-sighted. What the 2011 season has been is a chance to determine the on-field personnel to rebuild the franchise around while establishing standards of play for future editions.

Presumably, those standards don’t include being pulled after allowing four runs on six hits in five innings as happened to Pelfrey, or a slugging outfielder going 0-for-4 and leaving five runners on base as Jason Bay did.

Over the course of the first four months, Alderson and Collins have learned that they might have useful pieces in Justin Turner and Daniel Murphy. Now they have to decide if there is a closer on their roster.

Collins announced in the aftermath of Tuesday night’s trade of closer Francisco Rodriguez that he would experiment with Pedro Beato, Bobby Parnell and Jason Isringhausen. Parnell did not pitch in the series finale. Beato walked three and yielded three unearned runs in the eighth. Isringhausen struck out two in the ninth but gave up a hit and a walk.

“I’m going to cut a little slack. It’s been seven days since Beato has been out there, it’s been seven days since Izzy has been out there. I’m going to go on the fact that they haven’t pitched much,” Collins said. “But as I said (Saturday) I don’t care who you are. When you take the field, people are watching. You have to go out and get the job done. There are times when you have to shut the door to give yourself a chance to win. That was one of those opportunities and we didn’t shut the door. I’m a little disappointed.”

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