Mets pitcher Steven Matz looks on during spring practice Wednesday,...

Mets pitcher Steven Matz looks on during spring practice Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, in Port St. Lucie, Fla. Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

Binghamton had its best starter on the mound, and Steven Matz turned in a sturdy if unspectacular performance. The Mets’ offense, which was shut out on Thursday, fought back to tie the score in the sixth inning and, after falling behind again later, brought the tying run to the plate twice in the ninth.

But it wasn’t enough.

Binghamton fell, 6-3, to the Portland Sea Dogs in Game 3 of the Eastern League Eastern Division playoff series Friday night. The Mets are now in a 2-1 hole and face elimination in Game 4, at noon on Saturday in Portland. Righthander Rainy Lara is slated to take the start for Binghamton.

Matz, a Long Island native, allowed six hits, two walks and three runs (all earned) in five innings, striking out five. The outing was the third time this season the Mets' top lefthanded prospect has faced Portland. In 17.1 innings during those starts, Matz allowed eight earned runs (for a 4.15 ERA), 17 hits and four walks and struck out 14. Friday’s start was just the fifth time in 25 starts this season that Matz had allowed three or more earned runs in a start.

But the damage against Matz on Friday could have been much worse.

Portland loaded the bases with one out in the second inning, but Matz surrendered only one run, on Heiker Meneses’ sacrifice fly.

Meneses doubled to lead off the bottom of the fifth and, with one out, newly-signed Cuban import Rusney Castillo doubled to score Meneses. Mike Miller followed with a single that scored Castillo, who’s working his way to the majors after signing a seven-year, $72.5 million deal with Boston, Portland’s parent team, two weeks ago. But Matz battled back, striking out Sean Coyle and getting Keury De La Cruz to ground out to end the inning.

Despite solid pitching from Matz, the Mets still found themselves in a 3-0 hole entering the sixth. But Binghamton fought back.

Xorge Carillo doubled with one out and scored on Brandon Nimmo’s two-out double. Nimmo advanced to third on a fielding error and scored on a wild pitch to the next hitter, T.J. Rivera, cutting the Mets’ deficit to 3-2.

Darrell Ceciliani walked with two outs in the seventh and scored the tying run on Travis Taijeron’s double.

The tie was short-lived, however. Portland scored three runs in the seventh on singles from Castillo, Miller, Coyle and Carson Blair.

Brian Burgamy walked and Jayce Boyd singled with one out in the ninth, bringing the tying run to the plate twice. But Ceciliani and Taijeron flied out to strand the runners and end the game.

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