ST. LOUIS - The Mets began the season's second half Friday night by adhering to the script they faithfully followed in the first: They wasted another outing by a pitcher.
This time, the electric Noah Syndergaard wound up on the wrong end of a 3-2 loss to the Cardinals, though through little fault of his own.
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Jhonny Peralta hit a go-ahead solo shot in the sixth inning, just two batters after the Cardinals scrounged together the tying run, thanks to a broken-bat blooper and a poor throw by catcher Kevin Plawecki.
Meanwhile, the Mets rallied for a run in the ninth, thanks to a rare bit of sloppiness by the Cardinals. But the comeback fizzled when John Mayberry Jr. struck out to end the game, sending Syndergaard to his fifth loss despite holding the Cardinals to two runs in seven innings.
"He was outstanding," said manager Terry Collins, who was tossed in the seventh for arguing balls and strikes. "He's legit, a legit guy. He mixes up his pitches, he throws them for strikes, he's just really good."
Behind a fastball that again registered in the high 90s, Syndergaard racked up six strikeouts. But he got just one run of support -- on Curtis Granderson's fifth leadoff homer of the season,
"That's frustrating," Plawecki said. "Noah threw a great game and Grandy started us out real hot out of the gates. It's just unfortunate we couldn't help Noah out."
The Mets have scored one run or fewer in six of Syndergaard's 12 big-league starts. In his last four starts, he's allowed just four earned runs in 29 innings.
"I feel like the string of starts I've put together has established a lot of confidence in me," said Syndergaard, whose brief hiccup sixth was enough to cost him a chance to win.
Kolten Wong led off with a broken-bat bloop single, swiped second base, advanced to third on Plawecki's poor throw, then scored on a Matt Carpenter groundout.
Two batters later, Peralta pounced on a hanging breaking ball, swatting a go-ahead solo homer that caught the edge of Kirk Nieuwenhuis' glove as he leaped at the leftfield fence.
With the Mets down a run, tempers flared in the seventh, when Collins thought Lucas Duda had worked a four-pitch walk against Lance Lynn. But umpire Chad Fairchild called a strike on a 3-and-0 offering that appeared low.
Television microphones picked up what sounded like an upset Collins yelling from the dugout. With that, Fairchild gave Collins his third ejection of the year, drawing a roar from the crowd of 44,540 at Busch Stadium.
"It's the tying run," Collins said. "A ball's a ball. It's out of the zone. We hadn't said a word all game long. We're in a pennant race here. Those are big calls. You get the tying run on base and all of a sudden it's a different ballgame, we hope."
Already thrown out of the game, Collins got his money's worth, confronting Fairchild with a wave of words. The heated manager nearly turned red as he pointed at the umpire, even going back for a second round after he had made his way back to the dugout.
Of course, little went right for the Mets.
Before the game, Collins benched the veteran Michael Cuddyer (balky left knee) in favor of Nieuwenhuis, a hint perhaps at a diminished role for the struggling veteran.
Cuddyer has been dealing with a balky left knee, though last night, he was a healthy scratch. He was limited to pinch-hitting duty, grounding out in the eighth.
Nieuwenhuis didn't fare much better. He ended the first half with a three-homer barrage against the Diamondbacks. But he began the second with a forgettable 0-for-4 with three strikeouts.