ST. LOUIS -- Hoping to ride the wave of one of their hottest Minor League bats, the Mets recalled Kirk Nieuwenhuis from Triple-A Las Vegas after Wednesday's game, optioning fellow outfielder Matt den Dekker to Vegas.
Nieuwenhuis, who has already appeared in nine games for the Mets this season and 147 since 2012, was batting .314 with two homers, one triple, four doubles and five RBIs over his last eight games at Vegas. He also struck out 12 times in that 35-at-bat stretch, which has been a problem for him in the big leagues in the past.
In addition to promoting a hot hitter, the move also gives den Dekker, 26, a chance to play every day in the Minors. Though den Dekker played regularly for the Mets when Eric Young was on the disabled list, Young's return has resulted in a severe downtick in playing time for the rookie. Den Dekker had not started a game since Saturday, and was 2-for-20 at the plate dating back to June 7.
Like den Dekker, Nieuwenhuis is a left-handed hitter capable of playing all three outfield positions. He is more accustomed to a bench role, however, having started just 64 percent of his 147 career games.
Eveland replaces Mejia, earns save
ST. LOUIS -- Jenrry Mejia has mostly succeeded over his first five weeks as Mets closer. But with Mejia struggling Wednesday and one of the game's hottest left-handed hitters at the plate in the ninth, manager Terry Collins was not about to take any chances.
In a rare stratagem, Collins removed Mejia from the game with two outs in the ninth inning and the tying run on first, relying on journeyman left-hander Dana Eveland to retire Matt Adams for the game's final out.
"Jenrry actually has great numbers against lefties, it's just that [Adams] has killed [right-handers] over the past week," Collins said. "I wasn't going to let him do it again."
The move caught nearly everyone by surprise, including Eveland. Since coming to the Mets less than three weeks ago when the team was desperate for healthy arms, Eveland has done nothing but succeed. He survived two roster moves, outlasting relievers Buddy Carlyle and Scott Rice while posting a 1.13 ERA over his first eight outings.
Wednesday, Eveland threw five consecutive sliders to Adams, all of them either outside or toward the outer half of the plate. Adams finally rolled over the fifth of them, grounding into a defensive overshift for the game's final out.
"Once Mejia's in the game, you obviously assume your closer's in there to stay," said Eveland, whose first and only other career save came in 2005 with the A's. "But Adams has been swinging the bat pretty well, and I can throw a decent slider I guess. I figured it was a decent matchup so we went with it."
Collins stressed that this is not the start of a trend, and the next time the Mets face a save situation -- be it against a run of right-handed or left-handed hitters -- Mejia will close. But for one day, the 27th out belonged to Eveland.
"It's nice to remind myself that I can succeed at this level," said Eveland, 30, who pitched in Korea last season in an attempt to revive his career. "There have been plenty of times in my career when I've had my struggles, so to throw pretty well so far has been nice."
Colon doubles for first hit since 2005
ST. LOUIS -- A smile curled across Bartolo Colon's face when asked if he could recall his last big league hit. He shook his head.
Next time, he'll have no problem remembering.
Colon's nine-year hitless streak ended with a double and run scored in the sixth inning of Wednesday's game against the Cardinals, marking his first career extra-base hit, his first hit of any kind since 2005 and just the 11th of his 17-year career.
Following 28 hitless plate appearances this season, including 17 strikeouts and numerous unsuccessful sacrifice bunt attempts, Colon led off the sixth by punching a 1-0 Lance Lynn fastball into the left-field corner. Officially listed at 5-foot-11, 285 pounds, Colon cruised into second base easily as the ball rattled around near the fence.
"It was one of those things where I thought there was no way he was swinging," Lynn said. "And he swung."
Three pitches later, Colon scored on Eric Young Jr.'s double.
"In all honesty, that at-bat right there cost us the game," Lynn said. "If I make a couple of good pitches there to get him out, then who knows what that inning would entail. That's part of it. You don't expect him to be the one who starts something like that, and he did. I guess he was due."
To say the least. The hit was a revelation for Colon, whose .082 career average coming into the game ranked third-worst among active players with at least 130 plate appearances, trailing only -- ironically -- Lynn and Mark Buehrle. His frequently wild swings have deepened the lore surrounding his at-bats, as have his propensities for losing his helmet and carrying his bat all the way down the first-base line. Fans at multiple ballparks have given Colon standing ovations for nothing more than putting the ball in play, though Colon has mostly taken it all with good humor.
"If he threw a breaking ball, I was going to miss it," Colon said of Lynn, laughing as an interpreter translated. "I was sitting fastball. I just ran into it."
Pitching for the White Sox, Angels, Red Sox, Yankees and A's from 2003-13, Colon entered this season with just 32 plate appearances over those 11 seasons. He was a significant reason why Mets pitchers recently set the all-time record for hitless at-bats to start a season, going 0-for-64 from Opening Day into mid-May.
"That's a big swing, a big swing for us," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "He's been known to ambush every once in a while, and obviously that and two sacrifice bunts, that's a great offensive day for a pitcher."
Flores' offensive struggles keep him on the bench
ST. LOUIS -- Earlier this season, Mets manager Terry Collins said his team would not keep Wilmer Flores on the big league roster just to sit on the bench.
Yet essentially, that is what Flores has done over the past three weeks. Since receiving an uninterrupted run of starts at shortstop in late May, Flores has started just six times over a 19-game span. He made a rare appearance in the starting lineup Thursday, batting eighth and playing short, but Collins hinted that it won't become a trend.
"We've got to start winning," Collins said in explanation of Flores' sparse playing time. "We don't have time to develop players right at the moment. You'd like to, for sure. But you can't just say, 'Hey, look, I'm going to sacrifice three or four games as we try and get some of these young guys in the lineup, try to get them going offensively.'
"I understand how it's tough for them to play once every three or four days -- I certainly understand it, I certainly get it. But unless the time comes where all of the sudden we're going to go with our young players and get them better, right now we've got to try to win some games. Not that he can't help us win games -- don't get me wrong. But it's about going with the guys that are really getting it done at the moment."
Though Flores has passed most of the defensive tests the league has thrown at him, he has struggled offensively -- the opposite of what the Mets expected when they first recalled him from the Minors. In 14 contests since May 22, Flores has hit .191 with a .489 OPS, nine strikeouts and zero walks. Ruben Tejada has hit .305 with an .880 OPS, 13 strikeouts and 11 walks over that same span, essentially tearing the job away from his competitor.
• Outfielder Juan Lagares is scheduled to play in a simulated game Thursday in Florida. Lagares, who is recovering from a strained right hamstring, had not been in a competitive environment since injuring his leg June 1 in Philadelphia. He has been rehabbing at the team's Spring Training complex in Port St. Lucie, Fla.
• Left-handed reliever Josh Edgin has retired the first batter he has faced in all 16 of his appearances this season. That is the longest streak by a Mets reliever since Jon Rauch retired 28 consecutive first batters from July 3 through Sept. 9, 2012.