John Maine kept the Cardinals’ bats quiet with seven innings of one-hit ball and Carlos Beltran homered twice and drove in four runs, helping the Mets sweep the World Series champions with a 10-0 victory Wednesday night.
“We can’t change history, so we just came out excited about the first part of the season,” manager Willie Randolph said. “It just happens that the Cardinals were the team, that’s all. No extra incentive.”
Jose Reyes also homered and had three RBIs for the Mets, who were 8-1 to start last season en route to an NL-high 97 wins before they were eliminated by the Cardinals in the NLCS. Playing for much lower stakes but making a statement nonetheless, the Mets outscored the Cardinals 20-2.
The Mets have a six-game winning streak against the Cardinals in the regular season.
“It’s always great when you start the season the way we started, winning three against the world champions,” Beltran said. “Now we just need to continue to play the game we played here.”
The Mets romped in 41-degree temperature at game time, a precipitous drop from the opener on Sunday night when it was 72 degrees. They started a season 3-0 for the first time since 1994, when they won three straight at Chicago.
Braden Looper’s first major league start after 572 relief appearances was a bright spot for the Cardinals, who started 0-3 for the first time since 2001. The last time the Cardinals lost three straight at home to start the season was in 1969, the year after they lost a seven-game World Series to Mickey Lolich and the Detroit Tigers.
“I think if you get two runs in three games, we’re better than that, and I don’t care how good the pitching is,” manager Tony La Russa said. “No. 1, we are better than that, and No. 2, we have to be better than that if we expect to have a season in contention.
“I think we’ll fix it, sooner rather than later.”
The Cardinals were 1-for-15 with runners in scoring position in the series and the lone hit, a single by Preston Wilson in the opener, did not produce a run because Beltran’s strong throw from center field caught David Eckstein trying to score from second.
Wilson committed a two-base error when he missed pinch-hitter Julio Franco’s fly to right in the Mets’ five-run eighth, the Cardinals’ third outfield miscue in the series.
Maine, who capped his rookie season by beating the Cardinals in Game 6 of the NLCS, retired the first 12 batters. Scott Rolen singled softly to left and Jim Edmonds walked to open the fifth before Maine recovered to retire nine of the last 10.
“It’s a good start, but it’s behind me,” Maine said. “I guess it was good while it lasted, but it’s over with.”
Maine struck out six, fanning Chris Duncan and Wilson twice each. Edmonds drew a second walk with two outs in the seventh.
“It was nice to see Johnny pounding the zone,” Randolph said. “He was real focused, something I’ve challenged him with.”
Looper, who saved 57 games for the Mets in 2004 and ’05, didn’t allow a runner in scoring position until the sixth when Beltran hit a two-run homer just inside the right-field foul pole. Shawn Green added an RBI single for a 3-0 lead.
Beltran thought Looper tired as the game progressed, but Looper disagreed. He said the 0-2 fastball to Beltran that he left over the plate was his only real mistake.
“I gave up some hits, but they were groundballs or what have you,” Looper said. “I felt great the whole game.
“That one pitch, I just wish I could have back.”
Reyes and Beltran homered in a span of three at-bats against Josh Hancock in the seventh for a 5-0 cushion. It was the 18th multihomer game for Beltran, and fifth in the last two years.
Looper’s run of consecutive relief appearances before starting is the third-longest in major league history behind Todd Jones (632) and Chuck McElroy (603). … Beltran has three homers and nine RBIs in 22 at-bats at new Busch Stadium, which opened last year. … Three games into the season, Scott Spiezio and backup catcher Gary Bennett are the Cardinals’ only position players without a start.