ST. LOUIS -- A slumping Jay Bruce took extra batting practice before Tuesday night's game. The extra swings paid off handsomely.
Bruce began the game batting .194 but broke out with three hits, including an RBI triple.
"You never feel perfect, but I think overall the timing's been a little off," he said. "I haven't been in sync for an extended period of time yet, but I'm working at it every day."
Mets manager Mickey Callaway said Bruce looked different at the plate.
"He was on time," Callaway said. "He wasn't feeling for it. He was letting it go. It looked like he had a little bit of that conviction in his swing back. He went and attacked the ball and lived with the results and the results were good."
After Bruce's decisive drive to center field off former Mets farmhand Matt Bowman (0-1) with two outs, the Cardinals claimed he missed first base and challenged. A 56-second replay review confirmed Bruce touched the bag, and the NL East-leading Mets (15-6) closed it out for their 10th comeback victory of the season.
"We were all like, what's going on? And Jay was like, why are they challenging that? I stepped right on the middle of the bag," Callaway said. "So that was interesting."
There was no doubt in Bruce's mind that he touched them all.
"I've hit a few home runs in my career and I've never even gotten close to missing that base," Bruce said. "That would be a new low for me."
Cespedes also has been slumping -- he started the night hitting .195. But his homer off starter Luke Weaver tied it 4-all in the fifth. The drive traveled an estimated 463 feet to left field, the third-longest by an opposing player in the history of Busch Stadium III.
"He was losing the strike zone with the fastball so I was focusing on catching the changeup," Cespedes said through a translator. "I caught it and I hit it."
Mets starter Zack Wheeler lasted a season-low four innings and gave up four runs. Former ace Matt Harvey allowed a run over two innings in his first relief appearance since being demoted to the bullpen.
Harvey declined to speak with reporters after the game.
"There's no doubt that tonight he went out there and attacked and tried to help the team," Callaway said of Harvey. "He's manned up and he's going to do the job."
Bruce's sinking line drive got by left fielder Marcell Ozuna in the second for an RBI triple. It was Bruce's first triple in 174 games with the Mets.
Weaver lasted 4 2/3 innings. He gave up four runs and walked a career-high six as St. Louis had its three-game winning streak snapped.
Tommy Pham drove Wheeler's 95 mph fastball 420 feet to center for a home run that gave the Cardinals a 2-0 lead in the first inning.
Kolten Wong doubled in a run and scored on Weaver's single in the fourth to make it 4-1. Weaver's single was the first time the Mets allowed an opposing pitcher to reach safely in 42 plate appearances this season.
"Anytime you have a three-run lead and you can't hold onto it, that's always going to hurt," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "The guys fight back into it and then give it up again, those are tough ones to recover from. You've just got to move on."
Wong made a diving play at second on Gonzalez's grounder and threw him out from his knees for the first out in the second. Wong was playing in with Bruce at third. The play saved a run and Weaver was able to strand Bruce at third.
Mets: LHP Jason Vargas (broken right hand) started Monday for Triple-A Las Vegas and allowed three runs over four innings. He is scheduled to make his season debut Saturday in San Diego.
Mets LHP Steven Matz (1-1, 4.42 ERA) seeks his first win against St. Louis in the middle game of the series Wednesday night. Matz is 0-2 with an 8.64 ERA in two career starts against the Cardinals. They counter with RHP Michael Wacha (3-1, 4.22), who has won his last three starts.
More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball
Kansas City Royals' Salvador Perez breaks Johnny Bench's catcher record with 46th HR
Salvador Perez hit his 46th home run Monday to break Johnny Bench's record for most homers by a catcher in one season.
Perez breaks Bench's record with 46th HR, KC tops Indians
— Salvador Perez hit his 46th home run, breaking Johnny Bench’s record for homers by a catcher in a season, and the Kansas City Royals beat the Cleveland Indians 7-2 Monday in the first game of a doubleheader.
Salvador Perez sets single-season HR record for catchers
Salvador Perez passes Johnny Bench for the most long balls in a season by a catcher, and he also ties Vladimir Guerrero Jr. atop the 2021 home run leaderboard.
Right fielder Adam Engel 'feels good,' will be activated by Chicago White Sox with playoffs on horizon
At long last, the White Sox will have their starting outfield back in full, as right fielder Adam Engel is set to be activated from the injured list on Tuesday, according to manager Tony La Russa.
Anthony Gose, 31, former outfielder converted to reliever, promoted by Cleveland Indians
Formerly an outfielder in the big leagues, Anthony Gose, who played for Team USA in the Tokyo Olympics, was called up from the minors by the Cleveland Indians on Monday, this time as a hard-throwing lefty reliever.
Struggling New York Yankees activate pitcher Luis Severino, send former All-Star to bullpen
Former All-Star pitcher Luis Severino was activated by the New York Yankees before Monday's series opener against the Texas Rangers and is in position to make his first major league appearance in nearly two years.