J.D. Martinez has strong debut, but Mets fall to Cardinals, 4-2

NEW YORK — A momentous Mets debut for J.D. Martinez wasn’t enough to lift an otherwise uneven performance from his new teammates.

Martinez recorded two hits and an RBI in Friday night’s 4-2 loss to the Cardinals at Citi Field, where the six-time All-Star finally suited up after signing with the Mets in late March.

Batting fifth as the designated hitter, the right-handed Martinez picked up an opposite-field single in his first at-bat and clubbed an RBI double his third time up, just missing a home run as his sixth-inning line drive hit high off of the right-field wall.

His 2-for-4 performance represented one of the few bright spots for the Mets, who went 2 for 11 with runners in scoring position and struggled to get much going against a Cardinals starter in Miles Mikolas who began the day with a 6.49 ERA.

The veteran Mikolas, 35, limited the Mets to two runs over 5 2/3 innings. He escaped a two-on, none-out jam in the first inning by forcing Francisco Lindor to foul out and Pete Alonso to ground into a double play. In the fourth, he stranded Tomas Nido, who led off with a double.

It was a less successful evening for Mets starter Jose Butto, who entered with a 1.65 ERA over his first three outings but surrendered four runs over 5 2/3 innings against St. Louis.

Dating back to last season, Butto had allowed only three home runs over his last 58 1/3 innings. But the long ball burned Butto on Friday, with Alec Burleson breaking a scoreless tie with a three-run home run in the second inning and Willson Contreras adding a solo shot in the third.

The Mets were already deep into spring training when they signed Martinez — one of numerous big-name Scott Boras clients to endure a prolonged free agency in the offseason — to a one-year, $12 million contract.

Martinez hoped to debut sooner, but he experienced lower back tightness this month during his extended spring training in Port St. Lucie, Fla., delaying his arrival.

The Mets hope Martinez, who hit 33 home runs with 103 RBIs for the Dodgers last year, can provide protection behind the cleanup hitter Alonso, who has 12 RBIs through 25 games. The Mets have tried multiple hitters behind Alonso this season, including Francisco Alvarez, who is set to miss the next eight weeks after undergoing thumb surgery.

Friday marked the fourth time in five games the Mets scored two runs or fewer. They lost all four.

The latest defeat, which dropped the Mets to 13-12, kicked off a seven-game homestand, which continues Saturday afternoon against the Cardinals. Adrian Hauser (0-2, 7.45 ERA) looks to bounce back after giving up eight runs in his last start against the Dodgers, while Sonny Gray (2-1, 1.04 ERA) is set to pitch for the Cardinals.