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Morris' family outing ends on happy note
NEW YORK -- About 40 members of Matt Morris' family showed up at Shea Stadium to watch him pitch Sunday. Sitting in a rented suite, they were among the few fans in the ballpark who enjoyed his performance.
The right-hander from nearby Middletown pitched effectively into the eighth inning, and John Mabry homered and drove in three runs to lead the St. Louis Cardinals to a 4-2 victory over the New York Mets.
"It was a fun day, now that it's over. I build it up to be more than it should be with my family and everything," Morris said. "You don't want to go to dinner with the family after going four innings."
Subbing at first base to give All-Star slugger Albert Pujols his first day off this season, Mabry also turned two nifty double plays to snuff out potential rallies.
Reggie Sanders hit his 10th home run for the NL Central-leading Cardinals, who took two of three from the Mets and improved to 12-4 on the road.
"Everything is clicking for them right now," New York's Cliff Floyd said. "They're riding each other's confidence right now. They know they're playing well, and their pitchers stick to the game plan."
Mike Cameron homered, doubled and scored both runs for the Mets (19-19), who lost for the fifth time in seven games following a four-game winning streak.
"When you don't score a lot of runs, you can't blame the pitcher," manager Willie Randolph said.
Morris (3-0) got Floyd on a popup with runners at the corners to end the sixth and pumped his fist as he walked off the mound.
"That was the biggest out of the game for me," said Morris, who grew up a Mets fan and was 12 years old when they won the 1986 World Series.
He gave up two runs and six hits in 7 2-3 innings, his longest outing since offseason shoulder surgery.
Jason Isringhausen got three outs for his ninth save in nine chances, and second in two days.
"This year is a big year," Morris said. "I've got a lot to prove to myself, just to be better and better, and today was my best day yet."
Jim Edmonds drew a leadoff walk from Aaron Heilman (3-3) in the second. One out later, Mabry drove a 1-2 pitch over the right-center fence for a 2-0 lead.
"Mabry has been just great all year, wherever he plays," Morris said. "The amazing thing to me, you throw him in at any position, and he's a top-of-the-line player. He makes the adjustment and he plays the game the right way."
Sanders hit a solo shot to center with two outs in the fourth -- after Heilman struck out Larry Walker and Edmonds.
Cameron doubled leading off the fourth, for New York's first hit, and scored on Floyd's double-play grounder.
Mabry's two-out RBI single in the sixth made it 4-1.
"You put him in, and he lifts his hitting," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "He was outstanding."
Cameron connected in the eighth to chase Morris, who struck out six.
"He threw all of his pitches for strikes," Mets third baseman David Wright said. "He works off his fastball, changes speeds, take a little off, put a little on, throws everything for strikes. And he had his breaking ball working."
Heilman allowed four runs and seven hits in 5 2-3 innings, matching a career high with seven strikeouts.
The right-hander from Notre Dame could be sent to the bullpen or the minors when lefty Kaz Ishii comes off the disabled list, probably this week.
"I'd rather be a starter. That's where I'm most comfortable. But I've pitched in relief before, and right now I just want to do whatever I can to help the ballclub," Heilman said.
Notes: A male fan was hit in the head by David Eckstein's foul line drive in the third inning. The fan, who was sitting about 10-12 rows behind New York's dugout on the first-base side, received medical attention and was helped from the stands. He was taken to a hospital, but the Mets said they couldn't release any further information because of privacy laws. ... Edmonds left in the ninth with a sprained left foot. ... Pujols had played every inning this season. He pinch-hit for Mabry in the ninth and struck out. ... New York C Mike Piazza bounced an ugly throw to second base as Mark Grudzielanek stole on a pitchout in the fifth. ... The Cardinals have won 12 of 15 games against the Mets and are 20-7 against them since the start of the 2001 season.