New York rips Cardinals bullpen in 12-5 victory

Monday, October 16, 2006
Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina watched Sunday night as the Mets' Carlos Delgado (21) was congratulated by teammates, from left, Paul LoDuca, David Wright and Carlos Beltran after hitting a three-run home run in the fifth inning of Game 4 of the National League Championship in St. Louis. (Associated Press)

The Mets evened the series at 2-2 with a rout in Game 4.

ST. LOUIS -- Carlos Delgado and the rest of the Mets broke out their big bats just in time, ravaging the Cardinals' bullpen to make sure the NL Championship Series will end back in New York.

Delgado put New York ahead with a three-run homer, then busted open the game with a two-run double, leading the Mets to a record-setting 12-5 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday night that tied the best-of-seven series at two games apiece.

Carlos Beltran homered twice, giving him seven in 11 NLCS games, and David Wright broke an 0-for-13 slump with another for the Mets. Jose Valentin added a three-run double in a six-run sixth that put New York ahead 11-3.

"You create you own momentum," Delgado said. "You just have to approach every game like it's the last game you're going to play."

After being held scoreless for 14 innings, the Mets came to life in the third and set a team record for runs and homers in a postseason game. It was more than enough offense to back Oliver Perez, who was forced into the rotation because of injuries to Pedro Martinez and Orlando Hernandez.

New York had 14 hits, one night after getting just three.

But before the series returns to Shea Stadium, Tom Glavine (15-7) is to start for the Mets tonight, with Jeff Weaver (5-4) pitching for the Cardinals in a matchup of Game 1 starters. Both would be pitching on three days' rest, though rain is possible.

Glavine has pitched 13 scoreless innings in the postseason.

"He knows what it takes, and we're just going to come out tomorrow and play good ball again," Delgado said.

Beltran went 3-for-3 with two walks. Delgado, in the playoffs for the first time, is hitting .414 (12-for-29) with four homers and 11 RBIs.

"I played 12-and-a-half years and never sniffed the playoffs," he said. "I'm enjoying these playoffs. It's a blast. But I guess it's going to be that much sweeter when you win it."

Perez, acquired July 31 from Pittsburgh along with Roberto Hernandez in the Xavier Nady deal, gave up solo homers to David Eckstein, Jim Edmonds and Yadier Molina. He never retired the side in order but lasted 5 2-3 innings.

"I did my job, kept us in the game, and that's what's most important," Perez said.

Perez, only the second pitcher to start a postseason game in a year he finished the regular season 10 games under .500 (3-13), had been 0-7 on the road this year.

Cardinals rookie Anthony Reyes, who like Perez was pitching in a game for the first time since Oct. 1, allowed runners in all four of his innings, walked four and threw 86 pitches, but he gave up his only runs on the third-inning homers by Beltran and Wright, which put the Mets ahead 2-1.

But Brad Thompson and Josh Hancock were lit up for eight runs, with the pair combining to get just one out.

"They are kicking themselves and beating themselves up in the clubhouse," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said.

Delgado already has nine RBIs in the NLCS, tying the Mets postseason record for a series, set by Gary Carter in the World Series. Delgado already has set a team record with six extra-base hits, four of them homers -- and all to the opposite field.

"Very, very rare, very unique to see a hitter like him who can turn on you and pull the ball, and then can just stay out there and just serve the ball the other way," Mets manager Willie Randolph said.

Beltran kept up his role as a Cardinal-killer: He batted .417 against St. Louis with four homers in the 2004 NLCS as a member of the Houston Astros. During the regular season, the Mets were 9-1 when Delgado and Beltran homered in the same game.

Thousands of red-clad Cardinals fans waving white towels filled Busch Stadium on a cool night, hoping their team would move within one win of a World Series date with the Detroit Tigers -- who beat the Cardinals in the 1968 Series.

Molina put St. Louis on top in the second with an RBI single and, after the homers by Beltran and Wright, Juan Encarnacion hit a tying triple in the bottom half.

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa sent in a pinch hitter for Reyes in the fourth, and Thompson entered in the fifth. Paul Lo Duca reached when second baseman Ronnie Belliard misplayed his leadoff grounder for an error, Beltran singled and Delgado stayed with an outside 2-0 pitch a few rows into the left-field seats.

"Hopefully this is a one-day thing for us," Thompson said.

Eckstein, who homered just twice in the regular season, connected leading off the bottom half to pull the Cardinals to 5-3. But the Mets loaded the bases with no outs in the sixth against Hancock, and La Russa left him in to face Delgado.

Delgado lofted a fly ball to deep left that Scott Spiezio didn't get a good jump on, and the ball bounced over the fence on a hop for a double. A walk to Wright reloaded the bases, Tyler Johnson relieved, and Shawn Green singled to make it 8-3. Valentin then cleared the bases with a double down the left-field line, sending many fans streaming up the aisles.

Perez left after allowing homers to Edmonds and Molina in the bottom half, and Beltran connected for his second solo homer in the seventh, a drive off former-Met Braden Looper.

Notes: New York beat Atlanta 11-6 in Game 2 of the 1969 NLCS. ... Delgado tied the Mets' record for home runs in an NLCS, set by Rusty Staub in 1973, and his five RBIs tied the team postseason record, set by Staub in Game 4 of the 1973 World Series and matched by Edgardo Alfonzo in the 1999 division series opener.

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