NEW YORK (AP) Rather than rehash the curveball that froze him so long ago, Carlos Beltran focused on the current task – getting hits off Adam Wainwright, and getting the New York Mets back into the race.
Beltran gained a small measure of revenge against Wainwright and the Mets suddenly broke loose Tuesday night, roughing up the St. Louis ace in an 8-2 romp over the Cardinals.
Shut out four times during a 2-9 road trip, the Mets came home and ended Wainwright’s career-best scoreless streak at 26 innings.
“Our time will come as a team,” Beltran said. “My time will come.”
The last time Beltran faced Wainwright was the 2006 NL championship series, and the result was one of the most infamous at-bats in Mets history. Wainwright got Beltran to look at a wicked curve for strike three with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 7, preserving the Cardinals’ 3-1 win.
The two All-Stars had not met up since that October night, except in spring training exhibitions.
“I knew that,” Wainwright said.
Asked whether he realized it was the first time, Beltran dismissed any drama. “Not really, no,” he said.
And though a meeting in July hardly equals postseason frenzy, Beltran got the better of Wainwright this time around.
Beltran doubled to set up a run in the second, walked and scored on Francoeur’s homer in the fourth, then hit an RBI single off Wainwright in the fifth that made it 6-1.
“Pretty interesting,” Mets manager Jerry Manuel said. “The last time we saw Wainwright and Carlos, he made a pretty good pitch on us.”
Wainwright (14-6) was tagged for a season-worst six runs and was pulled after the fifth.
Jeff Francoeur hit a three-run homer and Jose Reyes added a two-run shot. Minus the suspended Manuel, Jonathon Niese (7-4) and the Mets handed the NL Central leaders their fourth loss in five games.
The Mets came into the game with a 16-inning scoreless streak, facing a pitcher who had a 1.94 ERA and was trying to tie Colorado’s Ubaldo Jimenez for the major league lead in wins. Plus, Wainwright had allowed just one run in his past five starts.
“He got a couple of bloopers, but he missed his location a couple, three times,” Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said.
Beltran sliced a double down the left-field line his first time up, and a broken-bat grounder by Ike Davis stopped the scoreless streaks for Wainwright and the Mets.
Francoeur put New York ahead for good at 4-1. He has been the subject of brewing trade speculation because of the Mets’ overcrowded outfield, although he’s got a spot for now – Jason Bay was diagnosed with a mild concussion earlier in the day, having run into the wall at Dodger Stadium last Friday night.
“I want to be here,” Francoeur said. “It’s a crazy place to play. It’s a fun place to play.”
Niese gave the Mets their 17th win in the last 24 home games. They won without Manuel, suspended one game for a recent run-in with an umpire. Bench coach Dave Jauss ran the team in Manuel’s absence.
Albert Pujols went 0 for 5, stranding five runners. The Cardinals slugger did no damage a day earlier, either, when he swung and missed at a soft toss from David Letterman during an appearance on the comedian’s late-night talk show.
Ryan Ludwick hit an RBI single off Niese’s glove in the first. At the rate Wainwright and the Mets were going, some in the crowd wondered whether that lone run would be enough to win for the Cardinals. It wasn’t, even though they outhit the Mets 10-9.
NOTES: There was an odd sun delay when the Mets batted in the second. A ray of light shone through a concourse opening, and play was briefly held up for Cardinals C Yadier Molina to get sunglasses. …Brendan Ryan’s bat sailed a half-dozen rows over the St. Louis 3B dugout in the second. That was farther than his infield single rolled on the next pitch. … Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, who left Sunday’s game with discomfort, has been cleared to pitch. … 1B Mike Hessman, the active leader in career minor league home runs with 329, reported to the Mets. He fouled out as a pinch-hittter, and Manuel said he plans to start Hessman on Wednesday night.