7,654: Mets’ 9th-inning comeback falls short in St. Louis

No cigar

The Mets overcame a 4-1 grand-slam deficit and got the ninth-inning tying run in scoring position Friday, but the comeback fell short as the St. Louis Cardinals beat New York 4-3.

Jeff Francoeur led off the ninth with a single and Gary Matthews Jr. pulled a one-out first-pitch fastball to right for a double, giving the Mets runners at second and third. Frank Catalanotto followed with his first hit as a Met, and the bloop single to left scored Francoeur. Matthews then scored on a Jose Reyes ground-out, but Luis Castillo grounded out to the game.

Mets starter Oliver Perez threw a great start of 6 1/3 innings of four-hit ball, the first of which was a lead-off Felipe Lopez single to advance our NoNoHitters.com count to 7,654 games without a no-hitter.

Mets’ skipper Jerry Manuel pulled Perez after he gave up an infield single in the seventh and Joe Mather sacrificed him over to second, opting for reliever Fernando Nieve.

Nieve hit Scott Schumaker in the foot with an 0-2 pitch and walked Matt Holliday after getting him to an 0-2 count before handing the ball to rookie southpaw Raul Valdes.

Valdes served up a 2-1 hanging curve to Lopez, who slammed the pitch over the left-field fence for a grand slam.

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