- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 19, 2015

NEW YORK (AP) - Jonathon Niese left his good stuff in the bullpen. The St. Louis Cardinals teed off on the rest.

Niese gave up a career high-tying eight runs and 11 hits in his second straight rough start, and the New York Mets were handily beaten by the St. Louis Cardinals 10-2 Tuesday night.

“He didn’t have his two-seam fastball,” manager Terry Collins said. “Every time he called it, or it was called for, it either went straight or he cut it and a lot of them, instead of cutting away from the barrel, came into the barrel.”

With the loss, the Mets fell into a tie for first place in the NL East with the Washington Nationals.

In a matchup between two of the NL’s ERA leaders, only Michael Wacha lived up to the billing.

Wacha (6-0) gave up a two-run homer to Daniel Murphy in seven innings of four-hit ball to join the Mets’ Bartolo Colon and Seattle’s Felix Hernandez for most wins in the majors. The six wins are a career high for the 23-year-old right-hander. His ERA rose from 2.06 to 2.13.

“It’s always good whenever you’re on the mound with that kind of run support,” Wacha said.

The Cardinals gave him plenty of it right from the start.

Randal Grichuk had three extra base hits and drove in three runs a night after striking out five times and Mark Reynolds homered among his three hits for St. Louis.

After his team went 0 for 11 with runners in scoring position in a 2-1, 14-inning loss Monday night, Cardinals manager Matheny loaded his lineup with right-handers to face the lefty Niese, leaving Jason Heyward, Matt Carpenter and Matt Adams on the bench.

The new look order broke out to match the Cardinals’ season high for hits, set on April 28 against Philadelphia. The NL Central leaders upped the majors’ best record to 26-13 with their fourth win in 10 games.

Every starter had a hit except for Matt Holliday, who added a sacrifice fly, and the Cardinals went 6 for 14 with runners in scoring position. Wacha contributed a safety squeeze in the second to give St. Louis a 2-0 lead, and he bunted for a single in the six-run sixth, when second baseman Murphy failed to cover first leaving reliever Eric Goeddel with no one to throw to.

Murphy thought Reynolds, on third, was breaking for home on the bunt and raced in rather than cover first while first baseman Lucas Duda covered the bunt, as usual.

“I should not be by home plate,” Murphy said.

Said Collins: “I can tell you that there are times where players try to do extraordinary things when the ordinary is all that’s needed and we’ll leave it at that.”

After giving up six runs - four earned - to the Cubs on Thursday, Niese (3-4) was off from the first batter, a single by Peter Bourjos.

Grichuk followed with an RBI double off the wall in left. Grichuk tripled off the glove of center fielder Juan Lagares leading off the third and added a two-run double in the sixth.

The first four batters in the sixth reached on hits, with Kolton Wong’s two-run double chasing Niese.

“I thought in the bullpen I was pretty good,” Niese said. “Just when I got out there today, I didn’t seem to find it.”

Mets pinch-hitter Darrell Ceciliani reached on a high chopper that never left the infield for his first major league hit in his first at-bat.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mets: Closer Bobby Parnell (Tommy John surgery) pitched 1 1-3 innings in an extended spring game at Port St. Lucie, Florida. He allowed four hits, three runs - two earned - and struck out two. He did not walk a batter. “Certainly the velocity is not where we would like it to be,” Collins said. “I think the biggest issue is his command is not where we would want it to be.”

UP NEXT

Cardinals: Carlos Martinez has not been able to finish the sixth in any of his three starts in May. He’s allowed 16 runs in those starts and is 0-2 this month.

Mets: Colon has gone 45 1-3 innings without walking a batter, 2 1-3 innings off Brett Saberhagen’s club record. The right-hander, who turns 42 on Sunday, is 4-0 in six starts against the Cardinals.

WRESTLING THE METS

Retired wrestling star Goldberg took batting practice at Citi Field and threw out the ceremonial first pitch. The former WWE champion who played in the NFL for the Los Angeles Rams and Atlanta Falcons said he once took batting practice at a major league stadium between turns by Barry Larkin and Mark McGwire. He said it was “the coolest moment and the most emasculating moment of my career.”

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