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 turned out to be the case.
"It was more excitement," he said after taking a shutout into the sixth inning, then settling for a 10-4 victory over the New York Mets. "I was able to refocus that adrenaline into making my pitches."
Gast, a 24-year-old left-hander recalled from Triple-A Memphis to start in place of injured right-hander Jake Westbrook, allowed only one runner to second base in the first five innings. Marlon Byrd led off the fifth with a double but was stranded there.
It helped Gast that St. Louis jumped to a quick 6-0 lead and increased the advantage to 9-0 in the fifth on Carlos Beltran's 10th homer of the year, the first three-run homer hit by a Cardinal at Busch Stadium this season.
Gast (1-0) wound up allowing four runs in six innings.
A sixth-round pick by the Cardinals out of Florida State in the 2010 draft, Gast was pitching in front of a crowd of 37,460 that included his parents, who made the trip from their home in Orlando, Fla.
It was a moment, he admitted, that he dreamed of all his life. How did reality match those dreams?
"It was pretty close," he said.
The first pitch of Gast's major league career was a called strike, and he needed only 12 pitches, nine strikes, to get through the first inning and make his first walk back to the dugout
"That was when it kind of hit me," he said.
Manager Mike Matheny was impressed by Gast's composure and demeanor on the mound, which was exactly what he expected to see.
"He's not an emotional guy, he's exactly the same all the time," Matheny said. "I've been looking at his interviews to see if we can see him smile because I've never seen it before. He just goes about his business the same way all the time. Today was a good day for him."
New York manager Terry Collins was impressed as well.
"His command was outstanding," Collins said. "He worked both sides of the plate with his fastball, and he used his change very effectively. He was very, very efficient. He pitched the way you like to see guys pitch, pounding the strike zone."
Gast got into his only trouble in the game in the sixth, giving up a single, a walk, an RBI single and a run-scoring groundout before 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 six hits. He walked one and struck out three while throwing 48 of his 71 pitches 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, in his second big-league season, pitched a scoreless ninth. Kelly, at 25, is the oldest of the four pitchers.
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.
"We've just gone through a bad stretch and it's been two weeks long, and we can't sit here and hide the fact and try to make some positives out of it," Collins said. "We're just not hitting, and I'm just hoping that the four-run inning maybe gets us going again."
That was the thinking of Byrd as well.
"It's been tough for us," he said. "We just have to stick to our approach. We know we can score runs. We did in April. We just have to get back to that."
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 Cardinals LF Matt 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' 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... 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.