Mets waste big night from rookies, pushed to brink in Series

NEW YORK (AP) The kids were all right and much, much more. If only the rest of the Mets were as reliable as their rookies Saturday night, New York might be all square in this World Series.

Michael Conforto and Steven Matz did everything they could in Game 4, putting on a fresh-faced show that went to waste at Citi Field. New York squandered an eighth-inning lead and was pushed to the brink of elimination with a 5-3 loss to the Kansas City Royals.

With the Mets down 3-1 in the best-of-seven set, Matt Harvey represents their last chance Sunday night. A victory sends the Series back to Kansas City, a loss ends their storybook season one comeback short of the ultimate prize.

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The last thing on the Mets' mind at this stage is the future, but it sure looked bright Saturday night.

Conforto busted out of his postseason swoon in a big way, hitting two home runs to help build a 3-1 lead for Matz. The local boy from Long Island held Kansas City in check on the mound until running into trouble in the sixth inning.

In the end, it wasn't enough.

Tyler Clippard walked consecutive batters in the eighth and an error by second baseman Daniel Murphy helped the Royals rally for three runs.

Before that, though, things were looking up thanks to a pair of youngsters who didn't arrive in New York until this summer, when the Mets were still sagging.

Drafted just last year out of Oregon State and called up from Double-A on July 24, Conforto became the fifth rookie to hit two home runs in a World Series game and first since 19-year-old Andruw Jones for the Atlanta Braves in the 1996 opener at Yankee Stadium, according to STATS.

The others were Charlie Keller (1939) and Tony Kubek (1957) for the New York Yankees, and Willie McGee (1982) for St. Louis.

Conforto began the night 2 for 22 (.091) with a homer and four RBIs this postseason. He became the sixth Mets player to hit two homers in a postseason game. The previous one was Carlos Beltran in the 2006 NLCS against the Cardinals.

The only other Mets player to go deep twice in a World Series game was Hall of Famer Gary Carter in Game 4 against Boston at Fenway Park in 1986.

The 22-year-old Conforto didn't face many left-handers this season, but his second homer came on a curveball from southpaw reliever Danny Duffy.

Lorenzo Cain's run-scoring single in the sixth trimmed Kansas City's deficit to 3-2 and chased Matz, who exited with a chance to win. The 24-year-old lefty was greeted by Harvey and then walked about 10 feet before slamming down his glove on the bench with his right hand.

Matz was making his ninth major league start, three this postseason. He woke up in his childhood home and made the Halloween commute to Citi Field, about 50 miles away.

Storybook stuff, for sure. But if the Mets don't win Game 5, the story this season is over.