Mets swat Ponson, Looper in 6-1 win

Friday, March 31, 2006

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Xavier Nady broke out of a slump with three hits and Paul Lo Duca drove in three runs to help the New York Mets beat the St. Louis Cardinals 6-1 on Thursday.

Nady and Lo Duca each finished 3-for-3. Anderson Hernandez, trying to land New York's starting second base job, went 3-for-5 with two runs scored and an RBI.

Competing with Victor Diaz for playing time in right field, Nady was mired in a 1-for-28 skid after getting off to a strong start in spring training.

"It was good to see him relax a little bit and get going," Mets manager Willie Randolph said.

Darren Oliver earned the win with two shutout innings. Aaron Heilman worked a hitless ninth in his first outing since being sent back to the bullpen. Heilman was beaten out for the fifth slot in New York's rotation by rookie Brian Bannister.

Mets ace Pedro Martinez is scheduled to make his second start of the spring today against the Cardinals.

Sidney Ponson, who won the fifth spot in St. Louis' rotation, gave up four runs -- three earned -- and seven hits in four innings.

Setup man Braden Looper yielded two runs, three hits and two walks in two-thirds of an inning against his former team.

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