NEW YORK -- Manager Mike Matheny couldn't have asked for a lot more from Tyler Lyons' spot start -- except for some run support.
Lyons -- called up from Triple-A Memphis in the absence of Joe Kelly, who will miss about three starts with a strained left hamstring -- gave the Cardinals six innings in the opener of a four-game series on Monday, but they were shut out, 2-0, by Jenrry Mejia and three Mets relievers.
A hit batsman in the third and Lyons' throwing error in the sixth set the stage for the trouble created with RBI singles, the first by David Wright and the second by Travis d'Arnaud. One big swing could have taken care of all of that, but the Cardinals went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position and left seven on base.
"You look at how we gave this game up today," said Matheny. "Two-out walks, a hit batsman, [Wright's] broken-bat hit. Then we get into a situation where we lead off with an error and two walks behind that. Things don't normally turn out that way, but I think the bigger story is our offense.
"A night like this you can blame on a lot of different things -- and a pitcher we hadn't seen a lot of is one of them -- but you have to make the most out of the few opportunities we are getting, and right now it's not happening."
A leadoff walk to Jhonny Peralta in the fifth was erased when shortstop Ruben Tejada made a diving stop, turned into a double play, on a smash up the middle by Jon Jay.
In the sixth, a second hit by Matt Carpenter and Allen Craig's looping single down the right-field line put runners on the corners with one out, but Mejia jammed Matt Holliday into hitting a popup and Matt Adams grounded out to second baseman Daniel Murphy.
In the seventh, when consecutive two-out walks to Jay and Ellis finished Mejia, Mets manager Terry Collins, with pinch-hitter Daniel Descalso announced, went to left-hander Scott Rice. So Matheny pulled Descalso for the right-handed-hitting Shane Robinson, who bounced out to third baseman Wright.
One inning later, Craig doubled to straightaway center with one out, but Carlos Torres struck out Holliday with a cutter and Adams with a curve. Even then the Cardinals still had one last tease in them. Yadier Molina led off the ninth with single off Kyle Farnsworth, who was seeking his first save of the season. But the next batter, Peralta, hit into a double play.
That sealed the loss for Lyons, who, to his credit, had pitched out of larger trouble in the sixth inning.
"Overall, it was OK," Lyons said about his ninth Major League start. "But it is tougher to swallow when you do a couple of things that kind of beat yourself. I throw that ball away, and it changes the whole complexion of that inning. I didn't get a very good grip on that ball is what it came down to. Just didn't take the time to get the grip I needed."
"[Lyons] did a nice job, got into a tough spot and worked out of it," said Matheny, "But the non-plays and free bases, they get us.
"When we are not hitting, those things really glare. I don't think it's going to be very frequent that happens to us. We're just going through a time without a lot of offense."
To shake some life into his offense, Matheny on Monday gave Kolten Wong the night off in favor of Mark Ellis, one day after resting the struggling Holliday, who is 5-for-26 on this trip.
"We can jump on [Holliday's] back when he gets it right," said Matheny. "Right now it is off just a little bit, but that guy threw a pretty good game out there.
"You are not going to pile up a lot of runs against good pitching. But I still put our offense up against anybody's."
Jay Greenberg is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.