Game Report: Mets 3, Cardinals 2

The Cardinals suffered their third walk-off loss in the ninth inning in the last seven games on Thursday in what could rank as one of the most frustrating defeats this season.

An eighth-inning homer by Tommy Pham put the Cardinals ahead 2-1 before the Mets tied it in the bottom of the inning on a homer off Brett Cecil before winning the game in the ninth.

Trevor Rosenthal broke late from the mound to cover first on a ground ball that should have been the third out and would have sent the game to extra innings. Instead, Jose Reyes beat the throw from Matt Carpenter as Yoenis Cespedes scored the winning run.

A victory would have left the Cardinals 3 ½ games behind the Brewers heading into this weekend’s series against the Cubs, who trail Milwaukee by just one game. The Cubs are 6-0 since the All-Star break while Milwaukee has lost its last five games. The Cardinals are in fourth place in the NL Central, 1 ½ games behind the third-place Pirates.

Here is how the game broke down:

At the plate: Pham drove in both of the Cardinals’ runs, tying the game 1-1 with a double in the sixth inning before his homer in the eighth, his 13th of the season … The Cardinals did not get their first hit until Greg Garcia doubled with two outs in the fifth. Garcia also singled in the seventh, but the Cardinals had only two other hits … One of those hits was an infield single by Eric Fryer, snapping an 0-of-22 streak … Paul DeJong was 0-of-4 and is now hitless in his last 12 at-bats.

On the mound: Lance Lynn allowed only one run and three hits in six innings, one of which was a home run by Lucas Duda in the second. It was the 21st home run allowed by Lynn this year … In his last three starts, it’s the only run Lynn has allowed over 19 innings … Matt Bowman retired the Mets in order in the seventh, recording two strikeouts, before pinch-hitter Wilmer Flores homered off Cecil with one out in the eighth … Rosenthal walked the first hitter he faced in the ninth, and after a fielder’s choice grounder, he gave up a single to T.J. Rivera that sent Cespedes to third and set him up to score on the infield single by Reyes.

Key stat: The Cardinals have not recorded a win from a relief pitcher since June 25, by Rosenthal. Since then, the combined bullpen is 0-4 with five saves in 20 games in which a reliever made an appearance.

Worth noting: Dexter Fowler was 1-of-4 and is now 5-of-27 since the All-Star break, a .185 average. All of the hits have been singles … Since moving into the third spot in the batting order, Fowler is 8-of-35, with seven of the hits singles. His only RBI came on a home run on July 7, his only homer in his last 49 at-bats … The home run by Flores was the second allowed by Cecil to a pinch-hitter this season.

Looking ahead: Carlos Martinez will get the start against Jake Arrieta in the first game of the weekend series in Chicago. The Cardinals were swept in the first three-game series earlier this year at Wrigley Field.