Cardinals 8, Mets 2
NEW YORK (AP)—Even after hitting a surprising two-run double for his first career RBIs, reliever Steve Kline couldn’t bring himself to gloat.
He knows all too well how it feels to give up a hit like that.
“I just got lucky,” Kline said. “I know how that guy feels over there.”
Edgar Renteria went 3-for-4 with a homer and a double for the Cardinals, who remained two games behind first-place Houston in the NL Central. Miguel Cairo also had a two-run double in the eighth and Bo Hart had two hits in the inning.
But after the game, talk in both clubhouses was about Kline’s hit and the reliever—now 2-for-12 lifetime at the plate—took the high road.
Cliff Floyd homered for the struggling Mets, who have lost six of seven and 18 of 23.
New York led 2-1 to start the eighth, but as a steady rain became heavier, Hart pinch-hit and second baseman Joe McEwing bobbled his slow roller for an infield single. Pinch-hitter Kerry Robinson followed with a tying triple to the right-field corner off Wheeler.
Albert Pujols and Renteria walked to load the bases, and Scott Rolen lifted a sacrifice fly to left, advancing all three runners and putting the Cardinals ahead 3-2. After an intentional walk to Tino Martinez, Cairo sent a liner to the gap in right-center.
One out later, Wheeler had a chance to get out of the inning when Kline (4-4) came to the plate without an official at-bat this season. But the pitcher hit a sharp grounder just inside the third-base line to make it 7-2.
“When the pitcher gets a hit against you, you feel like the world’s falling down on you,” Kline said. “I know how that boy feels over there.”
Wheeler (0-2) allowed four hits and five runs in one inning. Sure enough, he remembered Kline’s hit vividly.
“Slider,” Wheeler said. “He got the bat on it—he hit the right spot.”
The Cardinals added another run in the ninth on Renteria’s double and Rolen’s RBI triple.
The rally saved St. Louis starter Jeff Fassero from another hard-luck loss. Fassero allowed two runs and four hits in six innings, walking two and striking out four.
After 168 straight relief appearances, Fassero joined the St. Louis rotation June 22. In three starts, he has allowed just four runs in 15 2-3 innings, although he has only a loss and two no-decisions to show for it.
“That’s the goal—go out there and give up as few runs as I can,” Fassero said. “Six, seven, eight innings—whatever I get in.”
New York’s Steve Trachsel allowed five hits over 6 2-3 innings, and the Mets’ defense helped him leave with the lead in the seventh.
McEwing, whose fifth-inning double put the Mets ahead 2-1, dived to his left to stop Mike Matheny’s hit-and-run grounder. Instead of a potential first-and-third situation, St. Louis was left with a runner on second and two outs.
The following inning, however, Trachsel’s chance at a win vanished. As one of the remaining veterans on the rebuilding Mets, he wasn’t about to dwell on it.
“Wheeler’s been fabulous for us,” Trachsel said. “It’s just one of those nights for him.”
Rain caused a 55-minute delay at the start, but neither starter showed any ill effects.
Even with the notoriously slow-working Trachsel on the mound, the teams breezed through the first four innings in just more than an hour.
Renteria led off the second with his 12th homer, an opposite-field shot off Trachsel. The Mets evened the score in the bottom half on Floyd’s drive to right.
Floyd’s 18th homer traveled an estimated 420 feet, and the Mets nearly had back-to-back shots when Ty Wigginton hit a drive to deep left-center. But Pujols made a leaping catch to prevent a homer.
Pujols’ broken-bat single in the sixth extended his hitting streak to 16games.
Floyd’s homer was the 150th of his career. … Fassero notched his 1,500th strikeout, getting Jeff Duncan to end the fifth. … Fassero allowed 19 earned runs over his last 17 2-3 innings as a reliever for a 9.68 ERA. … Mets C Mike Piazza expects to begin a rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Norfolk next Friday night, and manager Art Howe said Piazza could be back with the Mets by Aug. 12 if all goes well. … Howe said he doesn’t expect LHP TomGlavine (right ribcage strain) to make his scheduled start Sunday.