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Mets vs Cardinals Recap: Bullpen struggles as Mets lose fourth game in a row

Scott Rice and Scott Atchison combined to allow three runs in the seventh inning as the Cardinals won 6-3.

Dilip Vishwanat

It could be a long week for the Mets in St. Louis. Our heroes are struggling, the Cardinals are playing great, and Matt Harvey will not pitch in any of the four games. So we're stuck crossing our fingers heading into pitching matchups like tonight's: young strikeout machine Lance Lynn vs glorified long man Jeremy Hefner. Tonight's game was not a total disaster but the end result, a 6-3 loss, was no surprise. The Mets have now lost four games in a row and Rick Ankiel is the new center fielder.

Hefner was serviceable in six innings of work. His peripherals weren't pretty -- two strikeouts, four walks -- but he racked up ground-ball outs and held the Cardinals lineup to just five hits. Hefner looked shaky in the first two innings, during which the Cardinals scored their first three runs, but he settled down thereafter. He sent the Cards down one-two-three in each of his final three innings of work. Tonight's loss wasn't really Hefner's fault but he's started seven games this season and the Mets have lost all of them. Now on to the real culprits tonight: the anemic lineup and two Scotts in the bullpen.

The Mets were lucky to score any runs tonight. Carlos Beltran gifted his old mate Daniel Murphy a two-run double with two outs in the second inning. Murph hit a line drive to right field off Lynn that Beltran appeared to lose in the sun, which allowed Ankiel and Mike Baxter to score. David Wright followed with an infield single to shortstop, driving in Murphy. That gave the Mets a temporary 3-2 lead, which disappeared in the bottom of the second inning after a Matt Carpenter RBI single.

Neither team scored again until the seventh inning. Scott Rice made his 22nd relief appearance of the season and induced Daniel Descalso to ground out to start the frame. Then, Ty Wigginton hit a soft line drive to center field that popped out of the glove of a diving Ankiel. It wasn't an easy play but he didn't get a great jump on it. Ankiel was using Rice's glove because his equipment got stuck in transit or something. Wigginton hustled his way to second base on the play. Carpenter then hit a pitch that struck Rice and rolled towards the first base line. John Buck ran to retrieve the ball and Wigginton scored all the way from second base when Rice was late covering home plate. Rice struck out Beltran and was then pulled in favor of Scott Atchison, who gave up a long home run to Matt Holliday that made the score 6-3. That was plenty of run support for the Cardinals bullpen, which gave up just a walk in two innings against the punchless Mets lineup. Atchison is feeling tenderness in his elbow, which might explain his performance tonight:

Outside of Holliday's bomb, this was a pretty "blah" game. Both teams made defensive miscues, the Mets struck out ten times, and, worst of all, the Mets lost again. It was pretty low on the entertainment scale.

The good guys will try to turn things around on Tuesday at 8:15 pm. The pitching matchup is Dillon Gee vs John Gast, a left-handed pitcher making his MLB debut. Go Mets, beat the Cardinals.

SB Nation Coverage

* Amazin' Avenue Gamethread
* Viva El Birdos Gamethread

Win Probability Added

(What's this?)

Big winners: Daniel Murphy +22.9%, Jeremy Hefner +2.7% (as pitcher)
Big losers: Scott Rice -18.8%, Scott Atchison -17.4%
Teh aw3s0mest play: Daniel Murphy two-run double in the second inning, +19.6%
Teh sux0rest play: Matt Carpenter RBI single in the seventh inning, -17.4%
Total pitcher WPA: -31.7%
Total batter WPA: -18.3%
GWRBI!: Matt Carpenter RBI single in seventh inning