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New York — At least the Mets beat the rain.
But nothing else.
The rain-filled clouds hovering over Citi Field on Thursday were more menacing than the Mets' offense. The bad weather held off just enough for the Mets to lose another game, 2-1, to St. Louis, and producing runs was as painful as a trip to the dentist.
Even worse, the Mets wasted another quality start by Matt Harvey. After a nine-game run in which he had eight no-decisions, mostly because of inept offensive support, Harvey (5-1) suffered his first defeat.
He deserved better. Harvey allowed one run and five hits and struck out seven in lowering his earned run average to 2.04. He left for a pinch hitter in the bottom of the seventh inning after the Cardinals intentionally walked Kirk Nieuwenhuis and forced the move to get Harvey out of the game.
Harvey's bullpen coughed up the second run that St. Louis needed to offset Marlon Byrd's ninth-inning home run.
At this rate, Harvey, despite his denials to the contrary, could get worn down mentally by the lack of offensive support. In his six career defeats, the Mets have scored three runs while he's been on the mound and seven runs overall. This was his eighth start this season of at least seven innings and one run or fewer, best in the majors.
"He very easily could have 10 or 11 wins," said David Wright, who had three of the Mets' seven hits, including two against Adam Wainwright, who pitched seven shutout innings to become MLB's first 10-game winner.
If Harvey is frustrated, he's doing a good job of hiding his emotions.
"That's pitching. It's going to happen," the ex-Fitch High great said. "I can't control what the offense is (or isn't) doing. I have to put up as many zeros as I can. I have to do my job."
If only the Mets' lineup did theirs. This isn't something that snuck up on them. Over their last 26 home games, the Mets are hitting .157 (29-of-185), including 0-for-4 Thursday, with runners in scoring position.
As manager Terry Collins pointed out, when the Mets swept four games from the Yankees, Daniel Murphy and Wright were driving in runs because others were on base.
"The last couple of days, we haven't gotten anybody on in front of David," Collins said. "That's a concern."
So is Harvey's state of mind. Wright says he talks to the young pitcher a lot about not letting the lack of support get to him, and Collins, for the first time, gave Harvey a pep talk after his latest outing.
"The last thing you want is for him to try harder. That would be counterproductive," Wright said. "It's unfair to ask Matt or anybody else to go out there and be perfect."
Harvey was nearly perfect. He retired the first seven Cards he faced, but couldn't get out of the third inning without giving up a run as a diving Byrd couldn't snare Matt Carpenter's line-drive triple into right-center field.
Wainwright, meanwhile, had the Mets eating out of his hand. After center fielder Jon Jay ran down Lucas Duda's long fly to center to end a mini-threat in the fourth, he worked his way out of a jam in the seventh when Justin Turner, hitting for Harvey, grounded out.
After Scott Rice and LaTroy Hawkins gave up four hits and an eighth-inning run, the Cardinals had to survive a rough ninth-inning by closer Edward Mujica. He gave up Byrd's 10th homer with one out, followed by a double by John Buck. Second baseman Carpenter's backhanded grab of Nieuwenhuis' hard-hit grounder up the middle saved Mujica, who struck out pinch-hitter Josh Satin to end the game.
A fitting ending to another dismal offensive performance by the Mets.