The win and Bristol’s loss to Danville moved the K-Mets into sole possession of first place in the division by a half-game — making them the third team atop the West over the past three days of games.
Kingsport (34-32) needs just one win to clinch a playoff berth, but Johnson City (33-33) needs help.
The K-Mets mashed out 20 hits, an effort that included a 4-for-5 showing by Brett Baty and a 3-for-4 night from Scott Ota.
Ota fell a double shy of the cycle after singling in the first, smacking a two-run home run in the third and tripling in the fifth. In his final two at-bats, Ota hit a sacrifice fly to center field and flew out to the shortstop.
He finished with five RBIs.
Six Kingsport hitters drove in at least one run, just two did not record a hit and only Tanner Murphy didn’t reach base at least once.
Johnson City had 10 hits but stranded 10 baserunners. Mateo Gil and Kevin Vargas each had three hits to lead the Cardinals.
The K-Mets were an eye-popping 8-for-16 with runners in scoring position but still also stranded 10.
Kingsport’s Benito Garcia got the win, going 3 2/3 innings and striking out six while giving up just three hits. The Cardinals struck out 14 times against Kingsport pitching, including six times against starting left-hander Christofer Dominguez.
Johnson City starter Jose Moreno — who entered the game with an ERA already above seven — suffered the loss after pitching just three innings and giving up 10 hits and six earned runs.
The only Cards hurler not to allow any runs was Alex Gallegos, who pitched the eighth inning when Kingsport managed just a single.
Johnson City needs to win Tuesday’s game to have a chance at making the playoffs.
The Cards and K-Mets resume the series Tuesday at Hunter Wright. First pitch is slated for 6:30 p.m.