No Runs, No Win

NEW YORK -- It was an example of baseball's most simple mathematical rule: you can't win if you don't score. <P> With a chance to reach the .500 mark for the first time in the month of May, the Mets wasted a superb pitching outing from righthander Steve Trachsel and fell to the St. Louis Cardinals Wednesday, 1-0.

It was just another stroke of bad luck for Trachsel, who always seems to wind up playing the role of a rain-soaked Charlie Brown in the Mets clubhouse. Though he has certainly been the team's most consistent starting pitcher over the last two-plus years, Trachsel's post-game shrugs and indifferent mannerisms have long since become his own personal trademark.

Wednesday, Trachsel pitched just about as well a game as anyone not named Randy Johnson could have this week. Locked in a heated matchup of zeroes with Cardinals starter Jeff Suppan, Trachsel scattered five hits through seven scoreless innings, striking out five.

"It was a situation where both guys were spotting the ball," Trachsel said. "The ball wasn't carrying real well."

Trachsel threw 98 pitches in the effort before finally giving way to Mike Stanton opening the eighth, then watched from the Mets dugout as the walls came crashing down against reliever Ricky Bottalico.

Scott Rolen, one of the National League's hottest hitters at .350, picked up his fifth hit of this series with a RBI double to left-center, plating Edgar Renteria with two outs.

To his credit, Trachsel told reporters that he wasn't sure he could have fared much better against Rolen, who is hitting .350.

"[It would have been] the fourth time to go through [the lineup]," Trachsel said. "Three times is pretty tough, four times is really hard."

And sure, on most nights, one run shouldn't be enough to win, but after coming from behind to defeat the Astros in 13 innings on Sunday and wiping out a one-run deficit Tuesday against Cardinals closer Jason Isringhausen, the Mets just seemed to be out of that late-inning magic.

New York went meekly in the eighth inning against winning pitcher Cal Eldred and in the ninth against reliever Steve Kline, who notched his first save of the year with a hitless ninth.

Let Mets manager Art Howe tell the story: "If you don't score, you can't win," he said.

HURTING METS: Mike Cameron was examined by Mets hand specialist Dr. Martin Posner this afternoon, who found that Cameron has been playing with a collateral ligament sprain of his right pinky.

Naturally, the injury has affected him swinging the bat, although the Mets believe Cameron could be back in the starting lineup as soon as this weekend's series with the Colorado Rockies. Joe McEwing started in center field Wednesday against St. Louis, although Cameron later appeared in the game as a pinch-runner.

It could be a longer wait before lefthander Al Leiter takes the hill again, however. Leiter missed his last start with tendinitis in this throwing shoulder and is not certain that he'll be able to make his scheduled start on Saturday against Aaron Cook (0-0, 9.00) and the Rockies.

However, Leiter – who originally told the Bergen Record's Bob Klapisch in April that his shoulder wasn't feeling 100 percent – has ruled out any kind of surgery. At age 38, Leiter doesn't believe that the payoff of going under the knife outweighs the results he could get from just trying to pitch through discomfort and soreness.

Meanwhile, Todd Zeile received eight stitches in his right ear after being spiked by Cardinals second baseman Tony Womack trying to break up a double play in the seventh inning. He is listed as day to day. ON SECOND THOUGHT: Ty Wigginton made his tenth career start at second base Wednesday. Wigginton's last start at the position came with Bobby Valentine filling out the lineup card on Sept. 28, 2002 against the Atlanta Braves.

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