The Cardinals picked up single runs in the fifth, seventh and ninth innings before the K-Mets began their last inning rally.
Jeremy Vasquez led off with a double and scored on Juan Uriarte’s single that also chased Cardinal reliever Evan Guillory in favor of Jacob Patterson.
Anthony Dirocie greeted Patterson with a two-bagger, putting two Mets in scoring position with nobody out. But Patterson fanned Gavin Garay on a third-strike foul tip for the first out, and Raphael Giadu grounded out to shortstop as Uriarte scored to make it 3-2.
However, there would be no back-to-back heroics for Angel Manzanarez, who lined out to second for the final out. Manzanarez blasted a walk-off homer to give the Mets a wild 13-12 win over the Cardinals on Saturday night.
Johnson City starter Jacob Schlesener (1-1) picked up his first victory of the season, tossing five innings of three-hit baseball. The 2015 12th-rounder from Rogersville, Missouri, struck out 10 and walked two.
Patterson, a former Texas Tech Red Raider, picked up his fifth save of the season, tops in the Appy League, and increased his scoreless innings streak to start the season to 10 1/3 innings.
Irvin Lopez went 2-for-4 with two RBIs for the Cardinals (10-14). Starling Balbuena was also 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored. Chase Pinder drove in a run, and Carlos Talavera scored twice for Johnson City.
Kingsport (9-13) got two hits from Dirocie. Hansel Moreno started his second straight game at shortstop for the K-Mets after being called up from the Gulf Coast League when Edgardo Fermin was promoted to Brooklyn.
The teams play the rubber game of the series Monday night at 6:30 p.m.