ST. LOUIS (AP)—Ryan Franklin might be getting the hang of the closer role.
Franklin, who had eight blown saves in 25 attempts last season, is perfect in three tries after pitching a scoreless ninth inning Tuesday night in the St. Louis Cardinals’ 6-4 win over the New York Mets.
“If you go out there and go one, two three it’s pretty easy,” Franklin said. “It’s when you start walking guys give up a couple of hits, it can snowball in a hurry.”
Rick Ankiel broke out of a 1-for-20 slide with three hits, including a go-ahead RBI double after Daniel Murphy misplayed a flyball into a triple. Albert Pujols had a two-run double, and Khalil Greene, Joe Thurston and Ryan Ludwick also drove in runs for St. Louis.
Jason Motte (1-1) got the last two outs in the eighth to earn his first major league win and then Franklin closed the door.
“I feel the same,” Franklin said. “I’m just trying to focus and do what I got to do to get ahead of guys. If I can get ahead of them, I feel like I got a chance.”
Ankiel, who went 1-for-18 on the Cardinals’ recent six-game road trip, had three straight hits after being retired in his first two at-bats to lift his average to .227.
“He’s got a lot of talent,” St. Louis Manager Tony La Russa said. “He’s pitched tough because he’s dangerous. The better the strike zone, the better he has to contact it.”
The Mets, who blew an early 4-0 lead, had a chance to break the tie in the top of the eighth but Carlos Beltran was tagged out at home when he tried to score on an errant throw to third. Beltran tagged up on Ramon Castro’s fly to right off Motte and raced home when the ball rolled toward the unattended pitcher’s mound. Instead of sliding, Beltran went in standing up and was tagged on the back by Yadier Molina to end the inning.
Brendan Ryan led off the bottom half with a liner off J.J. Putz (1-1) to left that Murphy charged in for, but Murphy misjudged the ball and fell trying to correct himself. The ball rolled to the wall and Ryan had a triple. Ankiel followed with his double to right.
“It was crushed,” Putz said. “Those balls, line drives right at the outfielders, are probably the hardest ones to get a read on. It was unfortunate that he just lost his footing and the ball got behind him.”
Ludwick gave the Cardinals a 6-4 lead run when hit a sacrifice fly.
On April 12, Murphy dropped a fly ball that led to two runs for Florida in a 2-1 win and cost Johan Santana a victory.
“I guess I’m a little concerned,” Mets manager Jerry Manuel said. “I have to be honest with you. He’s a hard worker. He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do. I think for the most part, I’d just like to see him relax.”
New York seemed headed for an easy night, scoring four times in the first four innings against Cardinals starter Todd Wellemeyer. Wellemeyer who gave up a career high 12 hits in his lone start against the Mets last season, gave up 10 hits this time in five innings.
“We had a four-run lead and we didn’t hold on to it,” Manuel said. “We have enough offense. We should add a run here or there and we didn’t do that.”
But the Cardinals chased Mets starter Oliver Perez and tied the game by scoring four times in the fifth inning
Pujols hit his two-run double after Wellemeyer singled and Ankiel each singled to center.
Perez, who allowed four runs on six hits and five walks, got Ludwick to pop out to first, but walked Molina and gave up an infield single to Chris Duncan to load the bases. Greene then walked to score a run to make it 4-3.
Casey Fossum, making his Mets’ debut, relieved and walked Thurston on four pitches to tie it. ^Notes: Mets RHP Mike Pelfrey, who missed his last start due to forearm tendinitis, threw in bullpen before game and is set to make his next start on Saturday. Manuel said Pelfrey didn’t have great command but had no pain. “Nice and easy. I thought the command could have been a little better. Oh yeah, he’ll be ready,” Manuel said. … Duncan extended his hitting streak to a career-best 13 games. … New York’s Luis Castillo has 15 hits in his last 30 at-bats.