Rapid Reaction: Cardinals 5, Mets 2

ST. LOUIS -- How low will they go?

The Mets lost to the St. Louis Cardinals 5-2 Tuesday at Busch Stadium to drop a season-worst nine games under .500.

Jonathon Niese allowed three earned runs or fewer for the 18th consecutive start, the longest active streak in the majors, and David Wright homered, but finding silver linings these days requires a high-powered pair of orange-and-blue-colored glasses.

Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

Jon Niese was charged with five runs (three earned) in six innings Tuesday at Busch Stadium.

The Mets have lost 11 of their past 14 and now have sole possession of last place in the NL East.

Tuesday’s ugliness included a comedy of errors -- charged and mental -- in the bottom of the sixth.

Already trailing 3-1, Niese was poised to strand a runner in scoring position. However, second baseman Daniel Murphy dropped Daniel Descalso’s soft liner. Murphy had enough time to recover and retire Descalso at first base, but Lucas Duda -- presuming Murphy would catch the ball in the air -- was too late covering first base.

Pinch hitter Kolten Wong followed with an RBI single against Niese (3-4).

The ugliness continued.

With runners on the corners, Wong attempted to steal second. Murphy received the throw and appeared to have Wong out. Instead, Murphy -- concerned Descalso would race home on a double steal -- never attempted the tag of Wong and focused on the baserunner at third.

Even catcher Anthony Recker threw up his arms in disbelief.

The inning further prolonged and with two now in scoring position, Peter Bourjos had a run-scoring infield single as the Cardinals took a 5-1 lead.

Niese departed after the inning. His line: 6 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 1 HR.

Yadier Molina produced a solo homer in the second inning against Niese to open the scoring. It was Molina’s first long ball against the Mets since Game 7 of the 2006 National League Championship Series.

In the fifth, Jon Jay had a tiebreaking, two-out RBI triple and Matt Holliday followed with a run-scoring double as St. Louis opened a 3-1 lead.

Deep thoughts: Wright, who had been 3-for-his-last-44, produced a fourth-inning homer against Michael Wacha to even the score at 1. It was Wright’s first road long ball this season. His four previous homers had come at Citi Field.

Wright followed with a double in his next at-bat and finished 2-for-4.

Wasted chances: With the score tied at 1 in the fifth, Murphy struck out against Wacha to strand two baserunners in scoring position. An inning later, trailing 3-1, the Mets again stranded a pair when Ruben Tejada struck out with runners on the corners.

Welcome back: Two days after he was forced to leave a start at Citi Field after one inning because of extreme stomach discomfort, Daisuke Matsuzaka handled the seventh inning at Busch Stadium. He allowed a leadoff double to Holliday and issued a wild pitch, but kept the Cardinals off the scoreboard in the frame. Matsuzaka remains on track to make his start Friday at Miami.

What’s next: Bartolo Colon (6-5, 4.15 ERA) opposes right-hander Lance Lynn (7-4, 3.16) in Wednesday’s 1:45 p.m. ET series finale as the Mets look to avoid getting swept. The Mets are 13-30 in St. Louis since 2001.