The Cardinals stranded nine base runners in scoring position Friday night in a 5-3 loss to the Kingsport Mets at Cardinal Park.
It was the sixth straight loss for the Cardinals (7-7), and wasn’t complete until cleanup batter Ronniera Garcia lined out to pitcher Robert Coles with runners at second and third.
Johnson City also left runners at second and third in the third and fourth innings, and Kingsport’s Jeyckol De Leon gave the Mets a 5-2 lead in the top of the fifth when he capped a four-run frame with a three-run home run.
“That was huge,” Kingsport manager Jose Leger said. “He came up in a big spot and he came out on a mission. He was looking for that slider and he got it. It was a hung slider, and he did some damage with it.”
The Cardinals got within 5-3 in the bottom of the fifth when Garcia singled and scored on Brett Wiley’s two-out single.
Consecutive one-out singles from Richy Pedroza and Bryan Vaughan put the tying runs aboard for the Cardinals in the ninth, and they were each in scoring position after Kenny Peoples-Walls grounded out to second for the second out.
But the clutch hit continued to avoid the Cardinals’ bats.
“We’ve really left a lot of guys on base, probably during this whole six-game ordeal,” Johnson City manager Joe Kruzel said. “But, you know, when we went 7-1 we were driving those guys in. We’re still getting them on. ... I’d rather it be that we’re not driving than in than nobody’s getting on.”
Left-handed reliever Yoan Gonzalez (1-2) allowed one run in four innings for the victory for the Mets (5-9).
“He fell behind early in the count, but he made adjustments and got better as the game went along,” said Leger, whose Mets will look to complete a series sweep today (6 p.m.). “You sleep a lot better when you do (string some victories together). When we put it all together we have a good chance to win. All those games we lost early in the season, it seemed like something was missing – either it was pitching or hitting.”
Coles got his first save.
Victor Cruzado was 3-for-5 for Kingsport. Champ Stuart and Jeff McNeil were each 2-for-3. Stuart scored two runs and stole a base.
Pedroza, Bryan, Wiley and Lance Jeffries each had two hits for the Cardinals. Wiley hit a 400-foot triple to lead off the fourth, and scored on Jeffries’ single.
Starter Luis Perdomo (1-1) pitched better than his line indicated. He allowed five runs in 41/3 innings, but a line-drive to center field was dropped and an infield single also came during the Mets’ four-run fifth.
Zach Lorained struck out three in 1 2/3 innings of relief for Johnson City. Cards’ reliever Michael Holback struck out three in two scoreless innings and closer Fernando Baez struck out two while working a scoreless ninth.