If Garrett Stephenson’s next start is anything like his last, a return to the bullpen might be out of the question.
Stephenson fired a four-hitter in a 2-1 victory at Montreal on Tuesday for his first complete game since Aug. 5, 2000. The 31-year-old right-hander allowed one earned run, struck out four and didn’t issue a walk in his first start since July 17.
The seven-year veteran was bumped from the rotation a week and a half ago after losing five straight starts. His previous two appearances were in relief, but he returned to his starting role due to an injury to staff ace Matt Morris.
“I just went out there and just had a clear mind,” said Stephenson after his first victory since June 17 at Milwaukee. “When you go out there with a clear mind, you’re going one pitch at a time, one hitter at a time until hopefully you get to go deep in the game.”
The Cardinals haven’t swept a three-game set at Shea Stadium since Aug. 10-12, 2001.
St. Louis pulled within one game of Houston for the top spot in the NL Central.
The Mets lost for the seventh time in eight games despite a season-high 17 hits.
Jeremy Griffiths will start for the Mets on Sunday, replacing left-hander Tom Glavine, who is slowed by a strained lower right ribcage muscle. Glavine has received a cortisone shot and is expected to be re-evaluated Tuesday.
This is Griffiths’ second major league start. He also filled in for Glavine on June 28, losing 7-1 in the opener of a two-stadium doubleheader against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium. The right-hander allowed five runs and seven hits, including a grand slam, over three innings.
Griffiths was 5-5 with a 2.93 ERA in 17 games, including 15 starts, at Triple-A Norfolk.
STANDINGS: Cardinals - 2nd place, 1 GB, NL Central. Mets - 5th place, 29 GB, NL East.
CARDINALS PROBABLE STARTER: Stephenson (5-10, 4.50 ERA). Stephenson is 2-1 all-time against the Mets with a 4.50 ERA in four starts.
METS PROBABLE STARTER: Griffiths (0-1, 9.00 ERA). Griffiths struck out 56 in 89 innings while allowing 19 walks and just four homers in the minors this season.
SEASON SERIES: Cardinals, 5-0.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Cardinals - The Cardinals have won six of their last eight at Shea. … LF Pujols is riding a career high-tying 17-game hitting streak. … C Mike Matheny drove in four runs Saturday, giving him seven RBIs in his last four games. Mets - To clear roster space for RHP Griffiths, the Mets optioned RHP Edwin Almonte to Norfolk. Almonte allowed three runs in an inning of relief on Saturday, and has a 12.10 ERA in nine games with the Mets this season. … The Mets recalled RHP Grant Roberts from his rehabilitation assignment but he remains on the 60-day disabled list. … 3B Wigginton has 24 doubles, tops among NL rookies.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Cardinals - 27-30 on the road; Mets - 22-35 at home.
INJURIES: Cardinals - OF Jim Edmonds (shoulder), day-to-day; C Joe Girardi (back), 15-day DL; C Steve Torrealba (elbow), 15-day DL; 2B Fernando Vina (hamstring), 15-day DL; OF Eli Marrero (ankle), 15-day DL; RHP Matt Morris (hand), 15-day DL; LHP Lance Painter (calf), 15-day DL; RHP Russ Springer (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Kiko Calero (foot), 60-day DL; RHP Chris Carpenter (shoulder), 60-day DL; RHP Gene Stechschulte (shoulder), 60-day DL. Mets - C Piazza (groin), 15-day DL; 1B Mo Vaughn (knee), 60-day DL; RHP Pedro Astacio (shoulder), 60-day DL; RHP Roberts (shoulder), 60-day DL; RHP Scott Strickland (groin), 60-day DL.