JUPITER, Fla. - The potential for distraction was all around Matt Harvey Friday morning before his start against the Cardinals.
It was his 26th birthday. There was cake.
It rained and the game was delayed for 26 minutes at the start.
But Harvey again passed a spring training test with no issues. The Mets' -- ahem -- No. 3 starter allowed one run in 41/3 innings in a 5-4 loss to St. Louis at Roger Dean Stadium.
Harvey's fastball sat in the mid-90s and was clocked as high as 98 mph. He allowed three hits, walked none and struck out five.
Harvey has a 1.45 ERA with one walk and 17 strikeouts in 182/3 innings.
If he's not ready, imagine what he'll look like when he is.
"I'm pretty excited," he said. "I don't know how many three-ball counts I really got into today. Probably not too many. Last time, I don't think there was any. So to have that and to know I can throw strikes with everything right now, I'm pretty happy."
Harvey allowed a leadoff double to Peter Bourjos, and Matt Holliday's sacrifice fly gave St. Louis a 1-0 lead.
Jhonny Peralta singled in the fourth and Scott Moore doubled in the fifth on Harvey's 80th and final pitch.
Harvey will start Thursday before he watches Bartolo Colon and Jacob deGrom pitch the opening two games in Washington. Harvey will make his return from Tommy John surgery April 9 at Nationals Park. His first Citi Field start is scheduled for the Mets' second home game April 14 against the Phillies.
Before the team left Port St. Lucie on Friday, Harvey and Michael Cuddyer, 36, were presented birthday cakes in the clubhouse. The entire team sang "Happy Birthday."
"I didn't realize it was the end of March until everybody was wishing me a happy birthday," Harvey said. "It's pretty nice knowing there's one more start and then we start playing some regular-season games. I feel like I'm definitely ready for the first start of the year."
Notes & quotes: Daniel Murphy (hamstring) needs to get on the field soon if he's going to be ready by the opener, Terry Collins said. He added, "I'm going to talk to Dan. I'm getting concerned he's not going to have enough time." If Murphy begins the season on the DL, Danny Muno and Matt Reynolds are candidates to replace him at second, according to Sandy Alderson, who omitted Ruben Tejada when speaking with reporters.