Matz matches Price, but Mets can't hold lead against Tigers

Top prospect limits Detroit to one run over 2 2/3 innings

Matz matches Price, but Mets can't hold lead against Tigers

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Highly-touted Mets prospect Steven Matz more than held his own against Tigers ace David Price on Saturday, but it wasn't enough as the Tigers rallied to a 6-4 victory at Joker Marchant Stadium.

Matz, the Mets' No. 3 overall prospect, fell into an early hole when he served up a two-out solo homer to J.D. Martinez in the first inning, but that would prove to be his lone blemish on the day. The left-hander went on to limit the Tigers to just the one run off three hits and a walk, while also notching one strikeout over 2 2/3 innings.

"The Tigers got a really good lineup, they're pretty stacked," Matz said. "And I was able to get some of those guys out today, so it definitely gives me a sense [that I can compete]."

As for Price, who on Friday was named the Tigers' Opening Day starter, the southpaw notched seven strikeouts, but was also tagged for two runs off eight hits over a spring-high 4 1/3 innings. The bulk of that damage came in the third when the Mets started the frame with four consecutive hits en route to scoring a pair of runs to take a 2-1 lead. Leadoff man Juan Lagares got the rally started with one of his two doubles on the day before Ruben Tejada, Lucas Duda and John Mayberry Jr. followed with three consecutive singles.

The Mets would push their lead to two with another run in the top of the sixth inning when Alex Castellanos, who later departed with an apparent right ankle injury, laced a one-out triple to right field off of reliever Angel Nesbitt then scored one batter later when second baseman Daniel Muno singled up the middle for his second hit of the day. Muno, who suddenly finds himself in the running for the Opening Day second base job in the event that Daniel Murphy isn't ready in time, finished Saturday's game 2-for-4 with an RBI.

The Tigers, who entered the day having scored just two combined runs over their last two games, finally managed to put together a rally en route to scoring three runs in the bottom half of the inning. Martinez started things off with a walk then, after a Jason Krizan bunt single, scored when Nick Castellanos singled to left field. Krizan would later score on an error to tie the game at 3, before Castellanos beat a throw to the plate on a Hernan Perez sacrifice fly to temporarily give the Tigers a 4-3 lead.

The lead would prove to be short-lived. Mets designated hitter Lucas Duda opened the next inning with a base hit and Mayberry followed with a double, allowing pinch-runner Jared King to score all the way from first to tie the game at 4.

It would stay that way until the bottom of the eighth inning when Javier Betancourt scored the go-ahead run after a pair of Mets' miscues. Betancourt initially reached on a one-out infield single and advanced to second base when third baseman Dustin Lawley threw the ball away following an impressive stop. After advancing to third on another base hit, Betancourt put the Tigers ahead for good when he slid into home just ahead of the tag following a Jeurys Familia wild pitch.

Up next: The Mets return home to Port St. Lucie on Sunday for a meeting with the crosstown rival Yankees. Mets ace Matt Harvey will take the mound opposite Yankees lefty CC Sabathia in a 1:10 p.m. ET pitchers' duel that can be seen on MLB.TV. It will be the fourth Grapefruit League start for Harvey, who has racked up an impressive 2.08 ERA this spring in his return from Tommy John surgery.

Paul Casella is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.