Mets lose to Cardinals as injury and rotation problems grow

Mets lose to Cardinals as injury and rotation problems grow

ST. LOUIS — It was not enough for the Mets to leave Busch Stadium on Sunday with another series loss and another troubling outing from their starting pitcher.

Before their 6-4 loss to the Cardinals was finally over, the Mets added both insult and injury.

They were left holding their breath when Robinson Cano went down in pain after getting drilled on the right hand with Andrew Miller’s 94-mph fastball in the seventh inning. The X-rays came back negative, but Cano was forced to leave the game.

To make matters worse, the umpires ruled that Cano swung on the pitch — the same determination they made Saturday when Pete Alonso got hit on the hand — which fired up manager Mickey Callaway and led to his ejection after heatedly arguing the call. It was not immediately clear if he had asked for a challenge or had waited too long.

Juan Lagares replaced Cano at the plate with an 0-2 count and struck out on one pitch. That Cano didn’t draw a hit-by-pitch came back to sting even worse a batter later, when Michael Conforto crushed a home run that could have cut the deficit to one run, but kept it to 6-4 with the solo shot.

Lagares later came up as the tying run in the ninth inning, with two outs and Alonso on first, but struck out to end it.

The late-inning drama came after Noah Syndergaard struggled through five ineffective innings. He gave up six runs, four earned, on eight hits and two walks as his ERA rose to 5.90 after five starts.

It made Jason Vargas’ four-inning stint Friday night, when he gave up one run, the Mets’ best start of the series.

The Mets hit four home runs — Alonso’s revenge moon shot in the first, Syndergaard’s center fielder-assisted round-tripper in the fourth, Cano’s first since April 6 in the fifth and Conforto’s bomb in the seventh — but all were solo blasts.

After striking out three in the first inning, Syndergaard got into trouble with leadoff walks. He issued a free pass to the first batter he faced in the second and third innings — both of which sparked Cardinals rallies.

In the second, Jose Martinez drew a five-pitch walk and Yadier Molina followed with a single. After a Syndergaard strikeout, Kolten Wong slapped an RBI single to left field, tying the game at one.

Amed Rosario then committed his fourth error in five games, bobbling a ground ball from pitcher Dakota Hudson, to load the bases. Syndergaard got the second out, but Paul Goldschmidt made sure the error came back to hurt as he ripped a two-run single to the left of a diving Rosario for the 3-1 lead.

Syndergaard walked Marcell Ozuna on a full count to start the third, and after a Martinez single, he came home to score on a groundout. Dexter Fowler then made it 5-1 with a double to the right-field corner.

The Cardinals didn’t get any free passes in the fourth but still got to Syndergaard with hard contact. Goldschmidt singled and scored from first on Ozuna’s double to the gap, stretching the lead to 6-1.

The Mets had plenty of chances to cut into the deficit aside from their home runs. They left seven men on base, including wasting a bases-loaded, one-out opportunity in the third inning.

By the end of the game, Rosario had booted another ground ball — his fifth error in as many games.

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