ST. LOUIS -- John Gast insisted that he did not expect to be nervous when he made his major league debut for the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday night, and that certainly appeared to be the case.
Gast, a 24-year-old left-hander recalled from Triple-A Memphis to start in place of injured right-hander Jake Westbrook, shut out the Mets on three hits over the first five innings before settling for a 10-4 victory.
The Cardinals helped take pressure off Gast by building an early 6-0 lead. St. Louis put the game away on Carlos Beltran's 10th homer, the team's first three-run homer of the year at Busch Stadium, in the fifth, giving the rookie a 9-0 cushion.
Gast, a sixth-round pick by the Cardinals out of Florida State in the 2010 draft, was pitching in front of a crowd of 37,460 that included his parents, who made the trip from their home in Orlando, Fla.
After allowing only one New York hitter to reach second base in the first five innings, Gast got into trouble in the sixth. He gave up a single, a walk, an RBI single and a run-scoring groundout before Marlon Byrd hit a two-run homer, his third of the season, slicing the Mets' deficit to 9-4.
The Cardinals got one of those runs back in the bottom of the sixth on a home run by Jon Jay.
Gast was lifted after the sixth, his night over after allowing the four runs on six hits. He walked one and struck out three. He threw 70 pitches, 47 for strikes.
He was followed to the mound by two other St. Louis rookies, Seth Maness and Carlos Martinez, each of whom turned in a scoreless inning. Martinez struck out the side in the eighth, allowing only a walk to John Buck.
Joe Kelly pitched a scoreless ninth.
The loss was the fifth in a row for the struggling Mets and the seventh in their last nine games. It was the first time in their last eight games that they scored more than three runs.
The Cardinals staked Gast to a quick lead, jumping on New York starter Dillon Gee (2-5) for three runs in the first inning. Matt Carpenter walked, moved to third on a throwing error by Ike Davis and scored on a double by Matt Holliday.
Allen Craig followed with a two-run single to increase the lead to 3-0. The two RBIs increased Craig's team-leading total to 30 in the season's first 36 games.
The lead grew to 6-0 with a three-run third that featured RBI singles by Pete Kozma, Carpenter and Carlos Beltran.
NOTES: The Mets placed RHP Scott Atchison on the 15-day disabled list because of right elbow inflammation. Atchison failed to retire any of the three batters he faced in Monday night's game and gave up a home run to Holliday. Replacing Atchison on the roster is RHP Collin McHugh, who was 3-2 with a 2.72 ERA in eight starts at Triple-A Las Vegas this season. McHugh went 0-4 with a 7.59 ERA for the Mets last year. ... The Mets also announced the signing of RHP Matt Fox to a minor league contract. He had been pitching for York in the independent Atlantic League, and he will report to Las Vegas ... RHP Shelby Miller, who retired 27 consecutive batters in his last start after allowing a leadoff single, will start Wednesday night's game for the Cardinals against Mets RHP Shaun Marcum (0-3, 8.59 ERA). Miller is 5-2 with a 1.58 ERA. ... The Mets' top pitching prospect, RHP Zack Wheeler, will be examined by team doctors in New York after complaining of soreness in his right clavicle. He had been pitching at Las Vegas and is expected to miss at least one start.