NLCS Game Four – Sun. 10/15 – Mets 12-5

The New York Mets evened up the NLCS at two games apiece by defeating and deflating the St. Louis Cardinals 12-5 at Busch Stadium on Sunday night. The win assured the Series will return to New York on Wednesday. The Cardinals bullpen, especially Brad Thompson and Josh Hancock, was totally ineffective, allowing ten of the runs. Yadier Molina, Jim Edmonds and David Eckstein hit solo home runs.

Cardinals starting pitcher Anthony Reyes allowed a pair of solo home runs in four innings. Starting fresh in the fifth, Brad Thompson was charged with three runs as he gave up a big fly to Carlos Delgado. Josh Hancock allowed five more as the game got completely away from the Redbirds in the middle innings. Overall, Tony La Russa went through five relievers on the night. Runs were scored against four of them.

Among the offense's nine hits were three solo home runs, by Yadier Molina, Jim Edmonds and David Eckstein. But, big guns Albert Pujols and Scott Spiezio were hitless.

One year ago today
On October 15, 2005, Roger Clemens and the Astros defeated Matt Morris and the Cardinals 4-3 in Game Three of the NLCS at Minute Maid Park. Brad Lidge got the save, but gave up one run in the ninth. Mike Lamb doubled and homered for the winners. Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina each had two hits for the Cards.

The match-up
Anthony Reyes (5-8, 5.06; ---) vs. Oliver Perez (1-3, 6.38; ---)

The line-up
Eckstein, Spiezio (LF), Pujols, Encarnacion, Rolen, Edmonds, Belliard, Molina and Reyes.
In: Juan Encarnacion
Out: Preston Wilson
In addition to the above change, Spiezio moves from fifth to second and Rolen and Edmonds swap places. The latter is not surprising, given Edmonds' struggles with lefties.

On to the game…

Mets first – Dodging the bullet
Paul Lo Duca flied out to the track in center for the second out. Carlos' Beltran and Delgado walked. David Wright flied out to center on Reyes' 27th offering of the inning.

Cards first – Great chance missed
Eckstein began with a single to left center. Pujols shot a ball off Reyes. The third baseman bobbled the ball, but made a strong throw that Delgado dropped at first base. It was scored an error. Juan Encarnacion's grounder was quickly turned into a devastating inning-ending double play.

Mets second – Trouble averted again
More two-out trouble as Endy Chavez singled, then Reyes walked his opposite number, Perez before getting Reyes to pop out to Eckstein.

Cards second – Out on top
Rolen singled to right leading off. Belliard shot a single to center to put runners at the corners. Molina singled to left just past the diving Reyes, scoring Rolen. But, Belliard was thrown out trying to take third. Reyes bounced out. Cards 1-0.

Mets third – From up to down
Beltran tied the game with a line drive home run to left. David Wright homered into the left field bullpen one out later. Shawn Green fanned for the third out. Mets 2-1.

Cards third – Get the pens ready
Spiezio drew a one-out walk. Pujols lined to Reyes, who intentionally dropped the ball to try to get a double play. No doing, as Pujols was called out. Encarnacion's gapper to right center scored the run and became a stand-up triple. Rolen flied out on the first pitch to end the inning. Tie 2-2.

Mets fourth – Working around it
Jose Valentin led off with a walk, but didn't advance. La Russa and Duncan had moved Reyes from the wind-up to the stretch because of a fear of tipping pitches.

Cards fourth – Another chance
As Brad Thompson prepared to pitch, Belliard singled with one out. Randy Flores also began to throw. Molina fanned on a full-count pitch and while Belliard was running, he smartly avoided Valentin's tag at second. Duncan pinch hit and just missed an RBI single up the middle. Instead, it was the third out.

Mets fifth – Brad bad
It didn't start well for Thompson. Lo Duca led off with a sharply-hit grounder that came up on Belliard for an error. Beltran singled past first. Delgado muscled an opposite-field home run to left good for three. Green singled to right with one out. In came Flores. Belliard, Edmonds and Encarnacion did a Keystone Cops number on a blooper by Valentin. He was forced out by Endy Chavez. Flores fanned Perez on a full-count offering. Mets 5-2.

Cards fifth – The mighty Eck
Eckstein muscled up himself, hitting a almost-identical home run as Delgado – except it was a solo shot, that is. Spiezio and Pujols fanned. Mets 5-3.

Mets sixth – Blown wide open
Reyes singled to left off Josh Hancock. On a hit and run, Lo Duca singled to left to put runners on the corners. After going 0-2, Hancock walked Beltran to load the bases. Duncan came out as Tyler Johnson got loose. Spiezio got turned around on Delgado's shot. It hopped over the wall into the left-field pen for two runs. Wright walked on four pitches, ending Hancock's night. Green singled to left off Johnson to plate the eighth run for the Mets. Still no out. Valentin's double cleared the bases. Duncan came out again. Can he pitch? Edmonds had to crash into the centerfield wall at full speed to finally haul in the third out. Hope he is ok. Mets 11-3.

Cards sixth – Two solo shots
With one out, Edmonds homered to center. Molina put a ball into the Mets bullpen with two outs, ending Perez' outing in favor of Chad Bradford. Preston Wilson grounded out to end it. Mets 11-5.

Mets seventh – Fourth longball
Beltran reached base for the fifth time as he homered into the Cardinals bullpen off Braden Looper. Mets 12-5.

Cards seventh – Way too little
Eckstein was hit on the knee by a pitch. Spiezio grounded into a 4-6-3.

Mets eighth – Atypical
Looper pitched a 1-2-3 inning. It was the first time all night the Mets went down in order.

Cards eighth – One measly runner
Pinch-hitter So Taguchi singled to center off Pedro Feliciano with two out and took second on a wild pitch. Didn't matter as Belliard took strike three looking.

Mets ninth – Looper eating innings
Michael Tucker singled off Looper. La Russa and Barry Weinberg came out to check on the pitcher. Apparently, he was uninjured. Tucker was out at second on a force.

Cards ninth – Garbage time
Aaron Miles singled against Guillermo Mota. Gary Bennett got an at-bat next and fanned. John Rodriguez grounded into a double play to end it.

In conclusion
Once Anthony Reyes left the game, Brad Thompson let the Mets retake the lead and Josh Hancock effectively put the game out of reach. The two Carlos – Delgado and Beltran - hit three home runs, scored six and drove in seven between them. Albert Pujols was again a non-factor.

Upcoming action (times CDT) – probable pitchers
NLCS Schedule (All games on FOX TV, times Central)

Mon., Oct. 16, 7:00 p.m.	Busch Stadium (Glavine vs. Weaver)
Tue., Oct. 17		Travel day
Wed., Oct. 18, 7:00 p.m.	Shea Stadium (Maine vs. Carpenter)
Thu., Oct. 19, 7:00 p.m.#	Shea Stadium (Oliver/Perez vs. Suppan)
# If necessary

Brian Walton can be reached via email at

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