NEW YORK — Dan Haren can spoil a manager, a coaching staff, 24 teammates and an entire fan base with his efficiency, effectiveness and reliability, which is why games such as Saturday night's, when the right-hander could have used a mulligan, seem so odd, so out of place.
Haren was rocked for six earned runs and seven hits in four innings of the Angels' 6-1 interleague loss to the New York Mets at Citi Field, by far his worst start of the season.
Mets right-hander Mike Pelfrey (4-5) threw his third career complete game, a 123-pitch effort in which he gave up one run, five hits, struck out five and walked none.
Haren, whose 2.54 earned-run average entering the game ranked third in the American League, had gone at least six innings and surpassed 100 pitches in all 14 of his previous starts. He gave up more than three earned runs in a game only twice.
But Haren was unable to record an out in the fifth inning Saturday, and his pitch count stood at 89 when he was pulled.
"Dan is one of those guys who have very few clams," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "He's usually making his pitches, but tonight was not one of his best games. He was up in the zone, his cut-fastball was a little flat, and he wasn't able to bring his split-fingered fastball into the game."
Or his curve. Haren has not thrown his breaking ball or his split-fingered fastball effectively for several starts now.
"I've been primarily a fastball-cutter guy -- I threw one curve tonight, and I never got the feel for the split," Haren said. "It could be release point. It could be feel. It could be something mechanical. I've been fighting it for two or three weeks.
"The split has been a great pitch for me, but I got beat with it a couple of times in Seattle [on Monday], and I didn't throw it much after that. I need to get that pitch back to where it was at the beginning of the season."
The speedy Mets also threw Haren off, as all four of their runners who stole second base scored.
Two Mets rallies were sparked by their fire-starter leadoff man, Jose Reyes, who singled, stole second and scored on Carlos Beltran's single in the third and walked, stole second and scored on Justin Turner's single in the fifth.
Angel Pagan opened the fourth with an infield single, stole second and scored on Jason Bay's single to left-center.
Bay scored on first baseman Russell Branyan's fielding error to make it 3-0.
Beltran followed Turner's fifth-inning RBI single with a two-run homer to deep right-center, his 10th of the season, to give the Mets a 6-0 lead and knock out Haren.
"You never want to let innings get out of control, like I did in that last inning," Haren said. "The leadoff walk obviously hurt. They stole quite a few bases, and they disrupted my rhythm. I was trying to be too quick to home."
There's only one fool-proof way to negate Reyes' speed.
"Keep him off base," Haren said. "He was on base twice against me, and that's tough. I was trying to vary my looks, be quick to home, and I was at first. Then I got a little slower as the game went on. Teams that run disrupt your timing."
The lone offensive highlight for the Angels came when Mark Trumbo crushed his 12th homer of the season over the 415-foot sign in right-center in the sixth. That made it 6-1.
The Angels have been held to one run or no runs 20 times this season.
"I didn't really give us a chance," Haren said. "These games are going to happen, even to the best of them. I've just got to bounce back and minimize these kinds of games."