The New York Mets came out of Wednesday night wondering what might be wrong with right-hander Jacob deGrom and hoping nothing serious is amiss with right fielder Jay Bruce.
DeGrom allowed homers to Randal Grichuk, Matt Carpenter and Stephen Piscotty, and the Mets lost to the St. Louis Cardinals 8-1.
Roughed up for the second straight start, deGrom (7-7) allowed five runs and 12 hits in 4 2/3 innings. He was tagged for a career-worst eight runs and 13 hits in his previous outing against San Francisco.
"Obviously when you get hit like he's been hit it's lack of command," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "That's where he's done a tremendous job since he arrived in the majors leagues, with his command. It's never been an issue. He's always been down in the zone. He's always had movement.
Collins said video of deGrom's recent starts shows pitches staying in the "hitting area," allowing hitters to take good swings on hittable pitches.
"That's where the issue lies," Collins said. "It is due to whatever? Obviously we need to take a look and see how he's doing. In this particular stage of the season, the first thing you look at is fatigue. So we'll start there."
DeGrom said he felt fine Wednesday.
"When I seem to miss it seems to go right down the middle and it seems to get out of the park or off the wall," deGrom said. "These last two have been frustrating, but I've got another one in five days so I have to get ready for that one."
Bruce led off the second with a double but had to leave because of a cramp in his right calf. Pinch-runner Alejandro De Aza scored on a double by Asdrubal Cabrera.
"His calf knotted up when he was actually jogging out to right field in the first inning," Collins said. "When he came in he told me right away, he said, 'I'm going to try to hit and see if it loosens up.' When he went into second base I looked out and he didn't give me the OK, so I went out and checked and he said it's really tight. I couldn't afford to have him blow it out so I took him out."
Bruce said he's hoping to play on Thursday and doesn't consider it serious.
"In San Francisco I fouled a ball off my shin, which I've done too many times in my career," he said. "I think it has to do with the way the swelling is dispersing through my muscle or whatever."
The Cardinals won for the seventh time in nine games and posted a season high-tying 19 hits.
Eight Cardinals had two or more hits, including right-hander Carlos Martinez. Piscotty and Yadier Molina each had three.
"It's fun to watch them put up crooked numbers in any inning, even against a quality pitcher like deGrom," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "When you throw up 19 hits and get (RBIs) from six different guys, that's a great overall effort. We had a bunch of hits but not a lot of runs early, but Stephen helped with that home run."
Martinez (12-7) gave up one run and four hits over eight innings for his second straight victory.
"I love how starting pitching set the tone," Matheny said. "It was almost a continuation of his last outing. He's understanding it's about location and movement. He can throw anything at any time."
Martinez allowed one run on three hits in seven innings against Houston his last time out.
"These last two outings I feel have been one of my best," Martinez said through a translator. "I've been really listening to Yadi and his advice has been really great and I feel really good about myself right now."
The Mets made a roster move after the game, optioning right-hander Erik Goeddel to Triple-A Las Vegas and recalling left-hander Sean Gilmartin.
Mets reliever Robert Gsellman is the first pitcher in the modern era to earn a victory in his major league debut as a reliever since John Montefusco on Sept. 3, 1974 with the Giants.
Mets: Jon Niese (left knee) may undergo surgery after lasting just one-third of an inning on Tuesday.