The St. Louis Cardinals are heading toward their fourth division title in the last five years while the New York Mets hope to avoid finishing in the NL East cellar for the third time in that same span.
St. Louis looks to move a step closer to another division title when it continues a four-game set with struggling Mets at Busch Stadium.
Larry Walker’s tiebreaking home run off the right-field scoreboard with two outs in the eighth inning gave St. Louis a 3-2 victory over New York on Friday night.
Walker’s 13th homer, estimated at 457 feet, is the longest hit by the Cardinals at home this year. Walker, 0-for-9 before the homer, has been battling a herniated disc in his neck much of the season and kicked the ground after taking a bad swing on the previous pitch before connecting on a 2-2 offering from starter Jae Seo.
David Wright had an RBI single and Cliff Floyd had two hits for the Mets, who have lost five in a row and 11 of 13 to fall a game under .500. They remained 5 1/2 games behind wild card-leading Houston.
Of the Mets’ last eight losses, seven have been by two or fewer runs. The exception was a 5-0 defeat to the Cardinals and 21-game winner Chris Carpenter on Thursday.
“Sometimes these are a little tougher to deal with because you always look back and feel like you could have done a few extra things to get it done,” manager Willie Randolph said. “We had a couple of opportunities to pick up some late runs and we don’t, and that always makes the margin for error real slim, and it bit us in the butt again.”