Mets unravel in sixth inning as they fall to Cardinals, 6-3

The Mets’ $ 110 million Cuban slugger had worked a 3-0 count against Cardinals southpaw Brett Cecil in the bottom of the ninth inning Monday, and with two runners on and one out, Yoenis Cespedes represented the tying run in a game the Mets trailed by three.

But instead of one of Cespedes’ titanic blasts, what was left of the 29,977 fans at Citi Field saw Cespedes ground into a game-ending double-play that resulted in a deflating 6-3 loss to St. Louis. The Mets dropped to 41-49 and lost their second straight game.

“It’s got to be his pitch, he’s the home run hitter,” Mets manager Terry Collins said of Cespedes after the loss. “He’s the big guy on our team you turn to. He had him in a great count and he’s got to get something good to hit and he just didn’t hit it.”

Cespedes, who was rested Sunday against Colorado, returned to the lineup and went 0-for-5, including the crushing at-bat to end the game. The Mets left fielder left the stadium without speaking to reporters, but the media relations staff said Cespedes’ family was in town, owing to his absence.

Right-hander Zack Wheeler couldn’t get the club started on a new win streak, and departed after just 5.1 innings. The Mets’ offense, meanwhile, failed to keep a wild sixth-inning rally going.

Zack Wheeler lasts just 5.1 innnings, giving up a two-run homer to Paul DeJong in the sixth inning.

Zack Wheeler lasts just 5.1 innnings, giving up a two-run homer to Paul DeJong in the sixth inning.

(Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

The big blow to Wheeler came from Paul DeJong, who hit a two-run homer in the sixth that gave the Cardinals (45-47) their first lead. Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright later smacked an RBI double, which led to Wheeler getting the hook in favor of lefty Josh Edgin. Edgin walked the only batter he faced, Matt Carpenter, and Hansel Robles, fresh off of being recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas, followed Edgin, but promptly gave up a three-run homer to Tommy Pham.

Wainwright, the Mets’ old friend who threw the curveball for the ages that froze Carlos Beltran to end the NLCS 11 years ago, gave up Michael Conforto’s 16th homer of 2017 in the fifth inning for the game’s first run. The Mets then added two more runs in the sixth inning by orthodox and unorthodox means.

Lucas Duda hit his 16th homer off Wainwright with one out. Jose Reyes then followed by roping a double to right-center field. Cardinals right fielder Magneuris Sierra nearly collided with Dexter Fowler, but Sierra flubbed fielding the ball while Reyes raced around second. Sierra then air-mailed his relay throw to third, allowing Reyes to scamper home and slide headfirst across the plate. He remained on the ground in spread eagle position, clearly gassed from his journey around the bases. Sierra was charged with two errors on the play.

Mets recall Hansel Robles after he was ‘lost’ to start the season

But the Mets couldn’t scrape any more runs across the plate, and now will turn to Rafael Montero Tuesday to try and get back on the winning track. Wainwright earned the win (11-5) while Wheeler took the loss (3-7).

Jose Reyes dives into home plate to complete his Little League home run.

Jose Reyes dives into home plate to complete his Little League home run.

(Brad Penner/USA Today Sports)

PLAY OF THE GAME

Jose Reyes’ inside-the-park “home run” in the sixth inning, courtesy of two errors charged to Cardinals right fielder Magneuris Sierra. Reyes socked a double to right-center, but ended up sliding headfirst across home plate for the Mets’ third run when Sierra flubbed fielding the ball, then nearly threw the ball into the third base line stands.

TURNING POINT

Paul DeJong’s two-run homer in the sixth. The blast put the Cardinals ahead to stay and the hit was the beginning of the end of Wheeler’s night.

STAR OF GAME

Tommy Pham. His three-run homer in the sixth gave the Cardinals the insurance runs they would need to win.

Mets’ Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey begin throwing programs

STAT

13.50. Zack Wheeler’s ERA in the sixth inning for the 2017 season after Monday’s outing, in which he gave up four runs in that sixth frame.

No more than 7 images from any single MLB game, workout, activity or event may be used (including online and on apps) while that game, activity or event is in progress.

Michael Conforto watches DeJong’s homer sail over the fence.

(Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

UNSUNG HERO

Reliever Paul Sewald. The right-hander pitched a scoreless seventh and struck out Paul DeJong and Kolten Wong.

M.I.A.

Yoenis Cespedes. After getting a day off Sunday, the Cuban slugger returned to the lineup and went 0-for-5 with a strikeout and game-ending double-play.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“I don’t know when I’ll get them back or if I’ll get them back.” –Terry Collins on pitchers Noah Syndergaard and Matt Harvey, currently on the disabled list, when asked about the timetable for their return to the team.

UP NEXT

Tuesday, 7:10 pm at Citi Field; RHP Michael Wacha (6-3, 4.10) vs. RHP Rafael Montero (1-5, 5.77).

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