- Adam Rubin, ESPN Staff Writer
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NEW YORK -- Matt Harvey no longer is unbeaten. Blame the bats, per usual.
After enduring a nine-game stretch during which he had eight no-decisions, Harvey on Thursday afternoon was tagged with his first loss since Sept. 12. He limited a vaunted St. Louis Cardinals lineup to one run on five hits and a walk in seven innings, but the Mets lost 2-1 in the rubber game.
Marlon Byrd accounted for the Mets' lone run with a one-out solo homer in the ninth against Edward Mujica. John Buck followed with a double and was replaced by pinch runner Collin Cowgill. But Cowgill was stranded at third base when Kirk Nieuwenhuis grounded out on a solid backhand play at second base and pinch hitter Josh Satin struck out.
Anthony Gruppuso/USA TODAY Sports
Matt Harvey surrendered his first 2013 loss despite allowing only one run in seven innings.Harvey’s first 2013 loss came in his 14th start -- a franchise record to begin a season.
In his last loss, which came in his second-to-last start of 2012, Harvey also was a victim of offensive neglect. He had limited the Washington Nationals to one run and five hits while striking out 10 in five innings of a 2-0 loss.
Trailing 1-0, the Mets threatened in the fourth. Wright singled with two outs and advanced to second base when Wainwright walked Daniel Murphy. Lucas Duda sent a shot to right-center, but center fielder Jon Jay settled under it at the base of the wall for the inning’s final out.
The Mets again placed two runners on base in the seventh while trailing by a run, but Justin Turner -- pinch hitting for Harvey -- grounded out on Wainwright’s 95th and final pitch.
Harvey had been struck, seemingly on the left foot, by a line drive off the bat of Yadier Molina in the second inning. Terry Collins and assistant trainer Brian Chicklo briefly visited the mound, but Harvey’s performance clearly was not affected.
Kitty company: LaTroy Hawkins made his 898th career appearance, tying Jim Kaat for 25th all time. Hawkins surrendered a pair of eighth-inning singles -- the latter to Allen Craig, which plated a run charged to Scott Rice as St. Louis took a 2-0 lead.
What’s next: After the upcoming deluge, the Mets will welcome the Chicago Cubs to Citi Field for the weekend.
Shaun Marcum (0-7, 4.96 ERA), who remains winless in his Mets career, opposes right-hander Edwin Jackson (2-8, 5.76) in Friday’s 7:10 p.m. opener. Marcum is coming off a 105-pitch relief appearance in which he tossed eight innings and suffered a hard-luck loss. Only Bob Miller, who was 0-12 to begin the 1962 season, opened his Mets career with more consecutive losing decisions.
Harvey’s next start comes Tuesday, likely in the day game of a split doubleheader against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field. Zack Wheeler, who pitches tonight for Triple-A Las Vegas, gets the other game of that doubleheader in his major league debut.
8hJesse Rogers and Jerry Crasnick