With the win and the Bristol loss to Danville, the Mets moved into sole possession of first place in the division by a half game. It is the third divisional leader in the West in the last two days.
Kingsport (34-32) needs just one more win to clinch a playoff berth while Johnson City (33-33) needs help.
The Mets mashed out 20 hits — including a 4-for-5 evening from Brett Baty and a 3-for-4 night from Scott Ota.
Ota fell a double shy of the cycle, as he had gotten a single in the first, a two-run home run in the third and a triple in the fifth. In his final two at-bats, he hit a sacrifice fly to center field and flew out to the shortstop. He still ended the night with five RBIs.
Six Kingsport hitters had at least one RBI and only two did not record a hit. Only Tanner Murphy did not reach base at least once.
Johnson City had 10 hits, but left 10 runners stranded. Mateo Gil and Kevin Vargas each had three hits to lead the Cardinals.
The K-Mets went an eye-popping 8-for-16 with runners in scoring position, but they too left 10 runners stranded.
Cardinals starter Jose Moreno — who came into the game with an ERA above seven — was credited with the loss after going just three innings and giving up 10 hits and six earned runs.
The only Cards pitcher to not give up any runs was Alex Gallegos, who pitched the eighth inning when Kingsport managed just a single.
Kingsport’s Benito Garcia got the win, going 3 2/3 innings and striking out six while giving up just three hits. All total, the Cardinals struck out 14 times.
Johnson City needs to win Tuesday’s game to at least have a chance to make the playoffs. If Kingsport wins one more game, they clinch a playoff spot.
The Cardinals and the Mets will resume the series at Hunter Wright Stadium. First pitch is slated for 6:30 p.m.