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NEW YORK (Reuters) - It was a Halloween nightmare for the New York Mets as they watched a late one-run lead in Game Four of the World Series slip away under second baseman Daniel Murphy's glove.
Murphy, whose seven home runs earlier in the postseason were a significant driver of the Mets' success, was unable to field a soft grounder hit by Kansas City's Eric Hosmer off Mets closer Jeurys Familia in the eighth, allowing the tying run to score.
The Royals would score two more runs in the inning to win 5-3 and take a commanding 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
"I tried to one-hand it. It probably deserved to be two handed.... I just misplayed it. It went right under my glove," Murphy said. "There's no excuse for it and we lost the ballgame because of it."
Murphy's error followed two walks by Mets reliever Tyler Clippard, who manager Terry Collins called on to start the eighth rather than bringing out Familia for a six-out save.
Familia had pitched the ninth inning on Friday with a six-run lead to give him some work. Collins said the fact that Familia had pitched the previous night affected his decision.
"I didn't want to have to burn Jeurys tonight for two innings, if I could help it," Collins said.
The Mets also lost the first game in the series after Familia, who had not blown a save since July, gave up a home run to Royals outfielder Alex Gordon while protecting a one-run lead in the ninth inning.
Before the Mets night turned ghastly in the eighth, the game had been a showcase for two Mets rookies - starting pitcher Steven Matz, who struck out five and gave up two runs in five innings, and leftfielder Michael Conforto, who hit two homers.
Conforto said it was hard to take solace in his personal performance.
"The feeling I got when I hit those two home runs - you dream about those moments. But it's a bit conflicting. We wanted to get that win tonight," he said.
Mets captain David Wright said he was putting his faith in standout starting pitchers Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard, who are lined up for the next three games should New York extend the series.
"The three guys that you have coming on the mound for us, you've got to like your chances," he said.
Reporting by Michael Erman; Editing by Larry Fine