NEW YORK – By the time the Mets were able to put anything together offensively, it was too late.
Tyler Chatwood put up far too many zeros against them, and the Los Angeles Angels teed off on a shaky start from Jonathon Niese to beat New York 7-3 Sunday.
Chatwood pitched seven scoreless innings and got his first major league hit, and Erick Aybar hit a bases-loaded triple for Los Angeles.
Niese (6-6) was 3-0 in his four previous starts, with five runs allowed and 25 strikeouts in 28 innings. On Sunday, the left-hander was charged with four of the five runs Los Angeles scored against him, and gave up eight hits before he was relieved in the fifth when the Angels' first three batters reached base.
"I think I tried to count the number of curveballs he threw. I think he threw six," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "I know he wasn't throwing it for strikes. That's still been the pitch that has made his fastball better. As you saw they just sat on fastball after fastball. They had good swings."
The Mets lost their first series since dropping two of three to Philadelphia in late May. Niese won the Mets' only game in that series.
Against the Angels with a chance to win yet another series, Niese couldn't come through.
"Just seemed like they were on every pitch I threw," Niese said. "They kind of got to me early. They were aggressive, swinging at first-pitch fastballs. That triple down the line kind of hurt, too."
Vernon Wells hit a solo homer and two RBI singles for the Angels, who didn't score a run for Chatwood in any of the right-hander's three starts since May 27 but more than made up for it on a balmy, gorgeous afternoon in Queens.
Chatwood (4-4) allowed four hits and four walks in seven innings. He threw a career-high 117 pitches before Alberto Callaspo pinch-hit for him in the top of the eighth.
Chatwood struggled early, but settled down to hold the Mets scoreless until they broke out for three runs in the ninth against the bullpen.
"I think I had better command out of the stretch than the windup today, so that helped out a lot," said Chatwood, who put the leadoff runner on four times. "Yeah, it wasn't planned, but thank goodness I had better command coming (out of the) stretch."
Los Angeles has won four of six and took two of three in New York to improve its interleague record since 2007 to 53-25, the best in baseball.
The Angels began three of the first four innings with leadoff singles. They did most of their damage in the first two, though.
Aybar's triple in the second made it 4-0. Los Angeles started the inning with singles by Mark Trumbo and Peter Bourjos before Izturis was hit by a pitch with two outs to load the bases for Aybar, who is 3 for 7 with the bases loaded this season.
In the first, Wells singled home Izturis with two outs after Izturis took second on a passed ball by Josh Thole. Wells added another run-scoring single in the fifth that chased Niese.
The last time Niese gave up more than two earned runs was May 12.
"I think the way he's been going I think it probably caught some by surprise," New York's Jason Bay said. "Sometimes you take things for granted. I think the way things (have) been going, I wouldn't have thought it would happen."
Mathis hit a solo homer in the sixth and Wells went deep in the seventh, giving him six home runs and 14 RBIs in his last 19 games.
Bobby Cassevah pitched a scoreless eighth, but gave up three runs in the ninth on singles by Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran, and a groundout by Justin Turner. Scott Downs came on and retired pinch-hitter Scott Hairston to end the game on a close throw at first.
"I thought I was safe, the replay showed it. I knew I was safe," Hairston said. "We were having a great inning. I was called out. It's unfortunate."
Notes: Howie Kendrick lost control of his bat on a swing during the seventh inning. It whirled into the stands and hit a seat. A fan grabbed it, but Kendrick asked for it back and security retrieved it for him, to loud boos. ... All three Angels batters in the top of the third hit grounders to Reyes at shortstop. He made a diving stop on the grass and then got up to throw out Vernon Wells, made a routine-by-comparison backhand play on Kendrick and threw out Trumbo easily to end the inning. He was applauded warmly when he led off the bottom half of the inning. ... In 2003, Reyes hit his first big-league homer against the Angels on Father's Day.
Follow Rick Freeman on Twitter: (at)RWFreeman