NEW YORK -- The reality the Mets face is still settling in. Without David Wright, the core of their team, the Mets are going to have to find a way to make up for the loss of his production. Josh Satin provided a boost, but ultimately the rest of the lineup couldn't pick up the remaining slack.
Justin Maxwell hit a go-ahead solo home run on a 3-2 pitch from David Aardsma in the 12th inning to propel the Royals to a 4-3 win over the Mets on Saturday afternoon at Citi Field. Despite the Mets' late-game resolve, this was certainly not the way they wanted their first game without Wright to go.
"Hef [Jeremy Hefner] pitched awesome, everyone ahead of me was throwing amazing," said Aardsma, who couldn't nail down the save for the Mets in Friday's game. "I got behind one hitter and I gave him a pitch to hit. If I don't do that, it gives me a good chance to get him out."
Before the game, the Mets placed Wright on the 15-day disabled list with a grade 2 strain of his right hamstring, which he suffered in Friday's 4-2 win over Kansas City.
"Some days we get hits. Some days we don't," Wright said. "I think we've been fairly inconsistent. We've had ups and downs, but we've got guys that are capable of getting hits and scoring runs with or without me in the lineup."
The Mets were slogging through their first game without their captain until they fought back from a two-run deficit in the eighth. Andrew Brown led off with a single down the third-base line off Kansas City reliever Aaron Crow, then Juan Lagares singled and stole second base to put runners at second and third for Satin.
Hitting in Wright's usual third spot, Satin hit a single to center field that scored Brown and Lagares, tying the game at 3.
"There's some guys that are determined to show people they belong here," Mets manager Terry Collins said of the younger players on his roster. "This is the opportunity they've been waiting for, for a long time."
Daniel Murphy hit a solo home run in the second, but that was all the Mets' offense could produce until Satin's clutch hit in the eighth.
After allowing a single to Satin in the fourth, Royals starter Bruce Chen retired the next nine Mets hitters.
Hefner, who entered the game with a 12.34 ERA in his previous three starts, showed signs he could be returning to the dependable starter he was before the All-Star break. He allowed three runs on eight hits with no walks and six strikeouts over six innings.
"It's the Jeremy Hefner that we've known," Collins said. "If he struggles early he can settle down pretty fast."
George Kottaras led off the third with a home run to tie the game at 1. Then Hefner allowed three straight singles, the last of which came when Eric Hosmer lofted a fly ball to center field that hit off the tip of Lagares' glove as he dove to attempt the catch.
Alex Gordon's sacrifice fly gave the Royals a 2-1 lead, and an RBI single by Miguel Tejada gave Kansas City another run.
But aside from that one rough inning, Hefner was effective. Hefner said the key to pitching deeper was an ability to get first-pitch strikes and retire hitters early in counts.
"They're a real aggressive team, and so [I was] just trying to get them to put it in play early," Hefner said. "My pitch count was starting to get up there again. Just trying to do that, and I did that pretty well today."
Until Aardsma gave up the homer to Maxwell, the Mets' bullpen had been pitching well. Gonzalez Germen, Pedro Feliciano, Scott Atchison and Scott Rice combined for five scoreless innings.
Leading off the 12th, though, Maxwell ended that streak. Aardsma couldn't locate, and it cost him.
"I got 3-0 and I'm like, 'I've got to take here because he hasn't thrown a strike,'" Maxwell said. "And then he laid one in there for me 3-2 and I took a good swing and I was just trying not to do too much and got a good pitch to hit."
The Mets' offense couldn't string enough hits together for most of the game. With Wright out of the lineup, New York is without one of its most consistent run producers. It's a tough task to replace him.
Hefner pitched well on Saturday, well enough to give the Mets a chance to win. But despite some fight, they couldn't get it done in the end.
"He settled in and got us as far as he could," Collins said. "We picked it up from there. We just didn't mount much of an offense."
Chris Iseman is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.