ST. LOUIS - There's something about pitching at Busch Stadium that seems to agree with Jaime Garcia, which is good news for the St. Louis Cardinals.
The bad news is that if the team's starting rotation follows form the next four weeks, Garcia is not scheduled to pitch again at home until the next to last day of the season.
In his second start at home since coming off a two-month stay on the disabled list, Garcia shut out the New York Mets into the eighth inning on nine singles Tuesday night before settling for a 5-1 victory.
In those two starts, Garcia allowed just one unearned run in 15 1/3 innings while issuing no walks and striking out 15.
In his two road starts at Cincinnati and Washington, Garcia allowed 10 earned runs in 11 1/3 innings, issuing four walks while striking out seven.
Three off days could affect the order of the St. Louis rotation, but if it follows form and just rolls over after those days off, Garcia would make his next four starts on the road.
And his home-road split is not a sudden disparity. Tuesday night's win raised Garcia's career record at Busch to 18-11 with a 2.46 ERA in 42 games. In 43 road games in his career, Garcia is 13-11 with a 4.59 ERA.
The Cardinals staked Garcia to a quick 3-0 lead, then added insurance runs in the sixth and seven on RBIs by Jon Jay and David Freese.
Garcia left the game with one out in the eighth after allowing singles to Justin Turner and Ruben Tejada, and following an error by shortstop Daniel Descalso, Turner later scored on a sacrifice fly by Mike Baxter off reliever Lance Lynn.
The win allowed St. Louis to maintain its lead over the Dodgers in the battle for the second wild-card playoff spot. Combined with the Braves' loss to Colorado, the Cardinals also closed within two games of Atlanta for the top wild-card spot.
The only bad news on the night for the Cardinals concerned outfielder Matt Holliday, who was forced to leave the game after drawing a leadoff walk in the seventh. He was reported to be suffering from lower back tightness, and his status was listed as day-to-day.
The Cardinals jumped to a 3-0 lead in the second inning. Yadier Molina led off the inning with an infield single, becoming the 33rd player in Cardinal history to record 1,000 or more hits for the team. Freese, Skip Schumaker and Descalso followed with consecutive singles, driving in the first two runs. For Descalso, it was only his seventh hit of the year in 65 at-bats with runners in scoring position.
Jay was hit by a pitch for the 13th time this season to load the bases, before a sacrifice fly by Matt Carpenter drove in the third St. Louis run. Matt Harvey finally got out of the inning by retiring Holliday on a fly to center.
The Mets could not mount any early rallies against Garcia, who scattered five singles through the first five innings.
NOTES: Rehabbing Chris Carpenter pitched a three-inning simulated game for the Cardinals Tuesday afternoon, the next step on his road to possibly pitching before the end of the season. If he experiences no setbacks on Wednesday, he will throw a bullpen session Friday and another simulated game next week when the Cardinals are in San Diego ... St. Louis' top pitching prospect, Shelby Miller, joined the team in time for Tuesday night's game and was available to pitch out of the bullpen. At 21 years old, when he appears in a game Miller will become the youngest player to appear for the Cardinals since Molina, also 21, made his debut in 2004 ... Knuckleball pitcher R.A. Dickey will try to become the first 18-game winner in the National League on Wednesday. He will be opposed by Adam Wainwright in the finale of the three-game series. The last Mets pitcher to win 18 or more games in a season was Frank Viola, who won 20 in 1990.