Beltran homers twice in Game 4 victory

Carlos Beltran homered twice and David Wright and Carlos Delgado added one long ball apiece to the Mets' offensive onslaught, making any concerns about Oliver Perez's effectiveness moot.

With their erratic left-handed starter pitching well enough for the win, the Mets flexed their muscle with 14 hits in their 12-5 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals Sunday, taking Game 4 of the National League Championship Series in convincing fashion.

The victory ensures that the series will return to Shea Stadium for Game 6 on Wednesday.

"It's a lot better being 2-2 than 3-1," Delgado said.

Held scoreless through their last 14 innings by St. Louis pitching, the Mets finally erupted in the third inning against St. Louis starter Anthony Reyes.

Having worked lengthy at-bats to quickly escalate the rookie's pitch count, New York broke through as Beltran blasted a home run to right field and Wright followed with a shot to left – his first hit of the NLCS – giving the Mets a 2-1 advantage.

"I think everyone was having a good approach at the plate today," Beltran said. "We were seeing a lot of pitches. It's a great feeling when you have a group of guys that are willing to take pitches at the plate."

With Reyes lifted after four innings and 86 pitches, Delgado added a three-run shot in the fifth inning off reliever Brad Thompson.

The slugger tacked on a two-run double as part of a six-run sixth inning that also included reliever Josh Hancock, putting the game out of reach and providing more than enough padding for Perez to grin in the dugout.

"He's accustomed to doing this," Randolph said of Delgado. "He's been doing it a long time. He's just a great all-around hitter and I'm just glad to see, and I said this before, that the world or the country is seeing him on stage like this, showing what a great, great hitter he is."

The prospect of tackling a 2-1 series deficit with Perez – an erratic and excitable left-hander who went 3-13 during the regular season, including 0-7 on the road – was perhaps the worst possible scenario for the Mets as the NLCS began, but it worked out fine.

Perez wasn't terrific, but he was good enough, allowing five runs and nine hits in 5 2/3 innings. Two of those runs – solo homers to Jim Edmonds and Yadier Molina – came in a sixth inning which opened with a 11-3 Mets lead.

Making his postseason debut, Perez walked one and struck out three in a 92-pitch performance – not bad at all considering that Perez was considered a throw-in and a reclamation project when the Mets acquired him from the Pittsburgh Pirates on July 31 with Roberto Hernandez for Xavier Nady.

"The most important thing was that I was calm and I didn't put pressure on myself," Perez told reporters. "Today I didn't put too much pressure on myself. I think that was the key for today. Sometimes I think too much. Today I forgot what happened this season and focused on this game."

Now, after 15-game winner Steve Trachsel was injured and failed to make it out of the second inning in Game 3, Perez could be the Mets' best bet to pitch a potential Game 7 in New York, meaning their season could again ride on his lanky frame.

"He did show me a lot. He didn't really bend," Mets manager Willie Randolph said. "It was nice to see him keep his wits about him and not overreact and not get away from himself. That's one thing he's improved on and gotten better at since he's been here. He's been able to keep his emotions intact and channel his energy and get through some potential big innings."

But first, the Mets will try to get out of St. Louis in style, sending Tom Glavine to the mound in Game 5 hoping to extend his postseason scoreless string past 13 innings. Jeff Weaver, Glavine's opponent in Game 1, gets the nod again for the Cardinals, with both pitching on three days of rest.

Beltran capped the scoring with his second home run in the seventh off former Met Braden Looper, bringing back memories of the outfielder's stunning 2004 postseason performance as he completed a 3-for-3 performance that leaves him batting .333 in the NLCS.

"He's done it before, he's been on this stage before and he seems to rise to the occasion when the big games come around," Randolph said.

With three home runs in this NLCS, Beltran now has seven career home runs against the Cardinals in the playoffs, tying him with Jim Thome (Red Sox) for the all-time record of intraleague home runs against one team.

Already quite the unpopular figure in St. Louis, he's hoping to add at least a few more before the Mets are done with the Redbirds. So are the rest of his teammates.

"Our team," Beltran said, "it doesn't matter how far behind we are in the game. We're not going to quit, we're going to try to get back. We've done it so many times this season, we believe in ourselves."

Contact Inside Pitch's Bryan Hoch at

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