Thanks to the best home record in the National League, the New York Mets are well on the way to their first division title in 18 years.
The Mets look to win their 11th straight game at Shea Stadium for the first time in 11 years when they conclude their three-game series with the St. Louis Cardinals on Thursday.
New York (77-48) leads the NL East by 13 1/2 games over Philadelphia, and defeated the NL Central-leading Cardinals 10-8 on Wednesday. The Mets built an eight-run lead but nearly gave it back after failing to get a hit in the fifth inning or later.
“A laugher is not always a laugher,” New York manager Willie Randolph said. “It seemed like a laugher, but it changed real quick. At least we’re not crying, though.”
Carlos Delgado went 2-for-5 with an RBI double, and is batting .478 (11-for-23) with five homers, three doubles and 12 RBIs in his last six games.
New York has won six straight games overall and a season-high 10 in a row at Shea.
“You want to set the tone at home,” said Billy Wagner, who pitched the ninth inning on Wednesday for his 32nd save in 37 chances.
The Mets improved to 40-22 at Shea, and have not won 11 straight home games since Sept. 13-Oct. 1, 1995.
New York went just 4-15 against the Cardinals (66-59) from 2003-05, but has won three of five meetings this year. The Mets have not swept St. Louis since July 28-30, 2000, the same year they last won the NL pennant.
They have not won the NL East since finishing 100-60 in 1988.
Dave Williams (2-3, 6.90 ERA) looks to keep the winning streak intact when he makes his second start for the Mets Thursday. Williams gave up three runs in 5 2-3 innings of a 7-4 win over Colorado on Saturday, but did not factor in the decision.
It was his first major league start since May 18 when he played for Cincinnati.
“Coming here and getting a chance to help the team out, I knew I needed to take advantage of this opportunity,” Williams said. “I just tried to keep them in the game and help the offense do their thing.”
The left-hander is 2-5 with a 4.53 ERA in eight career starts against the Cardinals.
St. Louis dropped to 8-13 in August with Wednesday’s defeat, but maintained a one-game lead in the NL Central over the Cincinnati Reds.
Jason Marquis (13-11, 5.70) takes the mound Thursday, hoping St. Louis’ offense can again provide enough support.
Marquis snapped a personal four-game losing streak his last time out, as his offense scored six runs while he was on the mound. He gave up three runs in five innings of an 11-3 win over the Chicago Cubs on Friday.
“I felt pretty good for the most part,” Marquis said. “I wish I could’ve went deeper into the game.”
Despite his high ERA, Marquis is tied for the NL lead in wins with Aaron Harang, Brad Penny, Brandon Webb and Carlos Zambrano. The right-hander has had to rely on his offense for run support, as he has allowed five or more runs in 10 of his 26 starts.
Marquis is 5-3 with a 3.65 ERA in 17 career games against the Mets. He gave up three runs and four hits in 7 2-3 innings in his only start against them this season, a 6-3 win on May 18.