Things you should know about tonight's game...
1) Zack Wheeler breezed through four innings before struggling in the fifth and falling apart in the sixth. The right-hander was charged with four runs on seven hits and four walks with five strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings. He worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the fifth but allowed a two-run homer to Paul DeJong in the sixth and an RBI double by Adam Wainwright before he was removed from the game.
2) Hansel Robles allowed a three-run homer to Tommy Pham on his second pitch after his recall from Triple-A Las Vegas following Sunday's game.
3) Lucas Duda went deep for the second straight game and Michael Conforto opened the scoring with a solo homer in the fifth, his 16th of the season. Jose Reyes scored on a double and two-base error. Jay Bruce, Duda and Reyes had two hits apiece, but the Mets went 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position.
4) After missing Sunday's game with a sore hip, Yoenis Cespedes went 0-for-5 and grounded into a game-ending double play as the tying run in the ninth inning.
Post-game reaction from Michelle Ioannou...
Coming off one of his best performances of the year against the Cardinals, would Wheeler be successful again tonight? Nope.
Wheeler did come out looking strong. Yes, he got into some trouble in the first few innings, but he got out of them without a scratch. Things got a bit uglier though in the top of the fifth when Wheeler seemed to lose his control and loaded the bases…but still came out of it without giving up a run. So not terrible, but things quickly deteriorated in the top of the sixth when the Cardinals took the lead, spearheaded by DeJong, who started his Mets massacre last week, and continued it tonight with a two-run homer.
On the bright side, our All-Star Michel Conforto played center today, and was pretty impressive. He made a fantastic play in the top of the fourth where he robbed Kolten Wong with a beautiful running catch. If he can keep this up and be an actual center fielder, this could be a game changer. Oh, and not to mention, he hit another homer tonight.
Hansel Robles made his return to the mound…and it went just like everyone expected it would. He gave up a three-run home run to the first batter he faced. Robles is back, everyone!
The bottom of the sixth had some excitement for the Mets. Down 6-1, Duda hit a solo shot, followed by what should've been a double by Reyes, which turned into a little league home run. It looked as though the 2006 Reyes was back. Travis d'Arnaud hit what should have been an easy out, but Dexter Fowler just missed the catch. It was refreshing to see the Mets' take advantage of poor defense.
Unfortunately, they couldn't do so enough while ultimately falling short. This is a friendly reminder that if it wasn't for Robles, the game would've been tied in the sixth. >> To follow Michelle on Twitter, click here.
News and notes...
Wheeler has completed six innings once in his last five starts, during which he has a 10.12 ERA in 18 2/3 innings. The 27-year-old has surrendered 31 hits in that span, including seven home runs.
Duda's 16th roundtripper of the season and the 124th of his career moved him into a tie for seventh place on the club's all-time list with Todd Hundley.
Bruce extended his hitting streak to eight games while T.J. Rivera's 11-game streak came to an end with an 0-for-4 night.
DeJong is 10-for-17 (.588) with four doubles, four homers and six RBIs in four games against the Mets.
The Mets (41-49) continue their four-game set with the Cardinals (45-47) at Citi Field on Tuesday night at 7 p.m. on SNY.
Rafael Montero (1-5, 5.77 ERA, 1.90 WHIP) makes his third start since being re-inserted into New York's rotation on June 25. The 26-year-old allowed four runs -- all in the second inning -- against the Phillies in an 8-2 loss on July 2. Montero faced the Cardinals for the first time on July 12 and allowed a run while retiring two batters in relief during a 4-1 loss.
Michael Wacha (6-3, 4.10 ERA 1.42 WHIP) starts for the first time since July 6 looking to win a fifth consecutive decision. The right-hander has surrendered two runs or less in three consecutive outings, including back-to-back nine-strikeout efforts. Wacha has never faced the Mets.