Dillon Gee watched a whole weekend of exceptional pitching by his New York Mets teammates, then lamented his one bad toss.
Gee spun and bounced a throw into center field in a key spot Monday and the St. Louis Cardinals took advantage, ending a season-worst five-game losing streak by beating the Mets 5-4.
The Mets had never swept a four-game series from St. Louis in New York. They had outscored the World Series champions 19-1 — getting a no-hitter from Johan Santana and a shutout by R.A. Dickey — before letting the finale slip away at Citi Field.
"Just made a bad throw," Gee said. "Obviously, it wasn't a no-hitter or another shutout. But I pitched well."
Allen Craig delivered the big hit, a tiebreaking two-run homer in the eighth.
Pinch hitter Scott Hairston and Lucas Duda homered for the Mets, who missed a chance to move all alone into the NL East lead. New York starts a three-game series at division-leading Washington on Tuesday night.
"We execute a couple of plays, we win the game," Mets manager Terry Collins said.
Gee limited the Cardinals to Craig's RBI single before making his mistake in the seventh inning.
With runners at the corners, no outs and the score 1-all, Gee gloved Daniel Descalso's comebacker and looked Craig back to third. Gee tried to start a double play, but bounced his throw into center field and twisted his head in disgust. The go-ahead run scored on the error, and Rafael Furcal's RBI grounder made it 3-1.
"Doesn't take much. Just a win," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "That was much needed, and nobody needed it more than we did. It will change the atmosphere around here. You never know which win will be the one that helps you take off."
Craig homered one out after Matt Holliday hit a leadoff single against Jon Rauch (3-5) for a 5-3 lead.
Rauch has tenderness in his right elbow and will be checked by a doctor. He has lost five straight decisions.
The Mets got closer in the bottom half when Andres Torres hit a long sacrifice fly, but closer Jason Motte retired David Wright on an inning-ending liner to right field with a runner at third base.
Motte finished for his ninth save in 12 chances. Marc Rzepczynski (1-3) wound up with the win despite allowing Hairston's eighth career pinch-hit homer in the seventh, a two-run shot with two outs that made it 3-all.
Cardinals starter Kyle Lohse pitched six sharp innings and allowed only two hits, including Duda's solo homer halfway up the second deck in the fourth.
The Cardinals took their first lead of the series in the fourth. Holliday led off with a double, moved up on a groundout and scored when Craig bounced a single through the partly pulled-in infield.
St. Louis tried to generate offense any way it could. Yadier Molina moved into the cleanup spot for the second time this season, and Carlos Beltran swung at a 3-0 pitch and grounded out to end the third with a runner on first.
After playing the Mets on Sunday night, Matheny also let his players arrive late on a rainy morning, with most of them getting to the ballpark about two hours before game time.
NOTES: Wright scored his 735th run, tying the Mets record set by Jose Reyes. ... Mets LHP Johan Santana will make his next start Friday night at Yankee Stadium. The Mets wanted to give him extra rest after threw a career-high 134 pitches Friday night in the team's first no-hitter. The NL Player of the Week was scheduled to present the Top Ten list on David Letterman's "Late Show" on Monday night but did not make the appearance because of the team's travel schedule. ... Mets RHP Chris Young, who missed most of last season because of shoulder surgery and has been in the minors this year, is ready to start Tuesday night at Washington. ... OF Jason Bay (broken rib) felt ill and won't rejoin the Mets on Tuesday, Collins said. ...The Mets swept a four-game series at St. Louis in 1986.