ST. LOUIS -- Just as good teams find ways to win games, struggling sides create ways to lose them.
So it went Wednesday night in Busch Stadium, where St. Louis posted its 12th victory in 14 games when New York Mets reliever Scott Rice wild-pitched the tie-breaking run home in the bottom of the seventh inning as the Cardinals prevailed 4-2.
With Daniel Descalso on third and Pete Kozma on first after a two-out walk and single, respectively, Rice bounced a 1-0 curveball to Ty Wigginton past catcher John Buck. Descalso sped home and it made a loser out of Shaun Marcum (0-4).
Marcum came into the game with an earned run average of 8.59, but gave up just five hits and two earned runs over 6 2/3 innings for his first quality start in four attempts.
Yadier Molina tacked on insurance in the eighth with a pinch-hit RBI single off LaTroy Hawkins, marking the eighth straight game in which New York's bullpen allowed a run.
Seth Maness (3-0) got the win in relief despite allowing a game-tying two-run homer to Rick Ankiel in the seventh. Edward Mujica worked the ninth for his 11th save as St. Louis improved its Major League-best record to 26-13, while the Mets (14-23) dropped their sixth straight.
Cardinals righthander Shelby Miller -- coming off a one-hit shutout Friday night in which he retired his last 27 hitters -- needed 63 pitches to get through three innings. Miller went to four 3-2 counts on the first seven batters, issuing a 12-pitch walk to Buck.
But Buck's poor baserunning cost New York a chance to score first in the top of the second. Standing on second after Ankiel's pop fly single, Buck broke for third on Ruben Tejada's liner to right-center, but center fielder Jon Jay made a routine catch and easily doubled Buck off second.
After Marcum sailed through the first three innings, allowing just Descalso's leadoff single in the third, St. Louis got to him in the fourth. Jay doubled to right-center, sending Matt Holliday home from first, and reached third when David Wright couldn't hang on to the ball after tagging him.
Backup catcher Tony Cruz, making just his second start of the year in place of Molina, cashed the error in with a single to left for a 2-0 lead.
Miller departed after 5 2/3 scoreless innings and 96 pitches, walking one and fanning six while allowing four hits. The rookie lowered his already miniscule ERA to 1.40.
NOTES: St. Louis RHP Jake Westbrook, currently on the disabled list with right elbow inflammation, plans to resume throwing on Friday. Westbrook, who is 2-1 with a 1.62 earned run average in seven starts, is eligible to return May 24. ... Mets RHP Matt Harvey is on the cover of Sports Illustrated this week, the first Met in five years to earn that honor. Harvey's next start is Friday at the Chicago Cubs. ... Cardinals RHP Chris Carpenter threw a side session in the bullpen Wednesday and pronounced himself pleased with it. Carpenter plans to throw another bullpen on Saturday and another next week before possibly planning a rehabilitation stint in the minors.