ST. LOUIS -- Hungry for a strong starting-pitching performance after a string of mostly poor ones, the Mets seemed to receive the antidote on Thursday when Noah Syndergaard dominated for much of the afternoon at Busch Stadium.In what is becoming a common theme, the Mets' bullpen then made sure it
ST. LOUIS -- Hungry for a strong starting-pitching performance after a string of mostly poor ones, the Mets seemed to receive the antidote on Thursday when Noah Syndergaard dominated for much of the afternoon at Busch Stadium.
In what is becoming a common theme, the Mets' bullpen then made sure it wouldn't matter. Robert Gsellman was unable to escape an eighth-inning jam, Jeurys Familia coughed up the tying run in the 10th, and Paul Sewald allowed the winning run in the 13th inning of New York's 4-3 walk-off loss to the Cardinals.
So continued a nightmarish stretch for the Mets' bullpen, which spent most of early April perched atop the National League leaderboard. Not anymore; over their last three series, Mets relievers have posted a 6.00 ERA, with 19 walks in 36 innings.
"It would be frustrating if we weren't where we're at in the standings," manager Mickey Callaway said. "We're still in a pretty good spot. What has happened the last week, or week and a half or whatever, is not going to continue to happen. It's just not going to happen."
Pitching with a one-run lead after the Mets scored in the top of the 10th, Familia allowed a two-out hit to Tommy Pham, then a hard Jose Martinez liner that Juan Lagares -- who came in for defense at the start of the inning -- couldn't snare. That tied the game, resulting in Familia's third blown save in his last five opportunities. Three innings later, Sewald allowed a one-out walk and a hit, giving William Fowler a chance to plate the winning run with an RBI single.
"That's a tough one to lose, especially having a lead like that and the way Noah pitched," Sewald said. "We're just going to have to clear our heads on this flight, and get to San Diego and bounce back."
Through a team spokesman, Familia declined comment because he is dealing with a family issue. He did, however, travel with his teammates to San Diego.
Brilliant over the game's first six innings, Syndergaard allowed one run in the seventh on a trio of hits -- two of them on balls that struck the gloves of Yoenis Cespedes and Todd Frazier. Still clinging to a one-run lead, Syndergaard again watched his defense undermine him in the eighth, when Amed Rosario's fielding error allowed leadoff man Greg Garcia to reach base. Syndergaard departed following a single, then watched from the bench as Pham grounded Gsellman's first pitch into left field for a game-tying hit.
The Mets played with a lead nearly the entire afternoon, after Cardinals starter Carlos Martinez hit Brandon Nimmo with a pitch leading off the game and Cespedes doubled him home. New York then scored a critical insurance run when Cespedes plated Rosario with a sacrifice fly in the seventh. Half an inning later, the Mets cashed in that policy when Marcell Ozuna drove home Pham, but they could not hold St. Louis' continued attack in check.
"Nobody in the clubhouse is feeling sorry for me," Sewald said. "We were trying to win a game. We threw our best guys out there earlier and tried to win it earlier, and didn't get it done. My job was to go out there and hold them as long as I could, until we could score. It just didn't happen today."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Lagares comes up short: With a man on first and two outs in the 10th inning, Martinez hit a sharp line drive to deep center field, where Lagares sprinted back but misjudged the ball's landing spot. Missing it completely, Lagares retrieved the ball after it bounced off the fence, but by that time Pham had already raced home with the tying run.
"I did my best to try but he crushed that ball," Lagares said. "I lost it a little [in the sun], but I still think I had no chance."
One of two pitching prospects the Mets traded to the Braves for Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe in 2015, John Gant bounced from Atlanta to St. Louis in a Dec. '16 deal for Jaime Garcia. Following a spell in the Minors, Gant made his '18 debut in the 11th inning, retiring all nine batters he faced to record the win against his former organization.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
For a time, it seemed as if Syndergaard might have no-hit stuff. Running his fastball up to 99 mph, Syndergaard retired 10 in a row to open the game, striking out six over his first six innings of two-hit ball. It was Pham who came up with the Cardinals' first hit, shooting a ball through the left side of the infield with one out in the fourth.
"He's better now," Pham said. "I faced him in Triple-A and a couple years ago -- he was a thrower with great stuff. Now he's elevated his arsenal. He's sinking it at 99, has a four-seamer, slider, curveball changeup. He has five pitches and plus stuff, so he's really tough."
HE SAID IT
"It was just out of our reach a couple times. They didn't hit one ball hard off Syndergaard. … It wasn't really about bad defense. It was just out of reach, just by a hair." -- Callaway, on the Mets' defensive issues
Easily the Mets' most consistent pitcher lately, Jacob deGrom will look to complete seven innings for the third straight start when he opens a three-game series Friday in San Diego opposite Padres starter Clayton Richard. Despite his successes, deGrom is just 2-0 in five starts, as New York's bullpen has not been able to hold leads for him in each of his past two outings. First pitch is scheduled for 10:10 p.m. ET.
Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.