Freese Drives in 5, Rallies Cards to Within 1 in Wild Card
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- David Freese drove in five runs with a go-ahead three-run homer and a triple, and the surging St. Louis Cardinals beat the New York Mets 6-5 Wednesday night.
The Cardinals have won four straight and 12 of 14 to move within 1½ games of Atlanta in the National League wild-card race. St. Louis, a season-high 17 games over .500 (86-69), has seven games left and will go for a sweep of the Mets on Thursday.
The Mets fell to 73-82, ensuring the third straight losing season for the big-spending ballclub that has been plagued by injuries and off-field financial woes this year.
Jaime Garcia (13-7), making his 30th start, pitched around four unearned runs in 7 2/3 innings. He gave up six hits and struck out five.
Jason Motte got four outs for his eighth save in 12 opportunities but allowed a solo home run to Willie Harris in the ninth.
Albert Pujols went 2-for-4 with two runs scored to extend his hitting streak to six games and up his average to .305. Pujols has now reached base safely in 37 straight games. He is hitting .500 during his six-game streak (13-for-26).
Allen Craig drove in the Cardinals' other run with an RBI single.
Mets shortstop Jose Reyes went 1-for-4, dropping his average to .330 -- and tying him with Milwaukee's Ryan Braun for the National League batting lead.
The Mets led 4-3 after six and the Cardinals were going quietly in the seventh when Pujols singled to center off reliever Miguel Batista with two outs.
Mets manager Terry Collins brought in lefty Daniel Herrera (0-1) to make Lance Berkman bat right-handed, but Berkman foiled the strategy by singling to left.
Collins then went to righty Pedro Beato and Freese tagged him for a 389-foot, opposite-field homer to right to give the Cardinals a 6-4 advantage. The homer was the 10th for Freese, who has 54 RBIs.
With a 3-0 lead, Garcia struck out the first two batters to begin the third. But Mets starter Chris Schwinden kept the frame alive with a single to right and Reyes followed with a double down the left-field line. Both scored when Angel Pagan's grounder went under shortstop Rafael Furcal's glove for an error to make it 3-2.
David Wright followed Pagan with an infield single in the hole to shortstop. Pinch hitter Josh Satin then gave the Mets a 4-3 advantage with a double to the gap in left-center.
Schwinden retired the first two batters he faced to begin the game, but then gave up a double to right to Pujols. He then intentionally walked Berkman, and Freese made him pay for that with a triple down the right-field that scored Pujols and Berkman.
The Cardinals loaded the bases in the second with one out on an infield single by Yadier Molina, a double by Skip Schumaker and a hit-by-pitch to Furcal. Craig singled to center to make it 3-0, but Schwinden got Pujols to pop out to first and Berkman to fly out to left the end the threat.