St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Adam Wainwright delivers in the second inning against the New York Mets in a baseball game in New York, Tuesday, July 27, 2010. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens) By Kathy Willens
New York Mets' Jeff Francoeur watches his fourth-inning, three-run home run off St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Adam Wainwright in the Mets' 8-2 victory in a baseball game in New York, Tuesday, July 27, 2010. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens) By Kathy Willens
New York Mets starting pitcher Jonathon Niese follows through in the first inning against the St. Louis Cardinals in a baseball game in New York, Tuesday, July 27, 2010. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens) By Kathy Willens
NEW YORK (AP) -- Carlos Beltran gained a small measure of revenge against Adam Wainwright as the New York Mets suddenly broke loose Tuesday night, roughing up the St. Louis ace in an 8-2 romp over the Cardinals.
Shut out four times during a 2-9 road trip, the Mets came home and ended Wainwright's career-best scoreless streak at 26 innings. Wainwright (14-6) was tagged for a season-worst six runs.
Jeff Francoeur hit a three-run homer and Jose Reyes added a two-run shot. Minus suspended manager Jerry Manuel, Jonathon Niese (7-4) and the Mets handed the NL Central leaders their fourth loss in five games.
The last time Beltran faced Wainwright was the 2006 NL championship series, and the result was one of the most infamous at-bats in Mets history. Wainwright froze Beltran with a curveball for strike three with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 7, preserving the Cardinals' 3-1 win.
The two All-Stars had not met up since that October night. And though a meeting in July hardly equals postseason drama, Beltran got the better of Wainwright this time around.
Beltran doubled to set up a run in the second, walked and scored on Francoeur's homer in the fourth, then hit an RBI single off Wainwright in the fifth that made it 6-1.
Beltran returned to the Mets following the All-Star game after recovering from surgery on his right knee. He put on an encouraging performance in his first game at Citi Field this year, running especially well.
The Mets came into the game with a 16-inning scoreless streak, facing a pitcher who had a 1.94 ERA and was trying to tie Colorado's Ubaldo Jimenez for the major league lead in wins. Plus, Wainwright had allowed just one run in his past five starts.
But, strange things happen all the time in baseball.
Beltran sliced a double down the left-field line his first time up, and a broken-bat grounder by Ike Davis stopped the scoreless streaks for Wainwright and the Mets.
Francoeur put New York ahead for good at 4-1. He has been the subject of brewing trade speculation because of the Mets' overcrowded outfield, although he's got a spot for now -- Jason Bay was diagnosed with a mild concussion earlier in the day, having run into the wall at Dodger Stadium last Friday night.
Niese gave the Mets their 17th win in the last 24 home games. They won without Manuel, suspended one game for a recent run-in with an umpire. Bench coach Dave Jauss ran the team in Manuel's absence.
Albert Pujols went 0 for 5, stranding five runners. The Cardinals slugger did no damage a day earlier, either, when he swung and missed at a soft toss from David Letterman during an appearance on the comedian's late-night talk show.
Ryan Ludwick hit an RBI single off Niese's glove in the first. At the rate Wainwright and the Mets were going, some in the crowd wondered whether that lone run would be enough to win for the Cardinals.
NOTES: There was an odd sun delay when the Mets batted in the second. A ray of light shone through an concourse opening, and play was briefly held up for Cardinals C Yadier Molina to get sunglasses. ...Brendan Ryan's bat sailed a half-dozen rows over the St. Louis 3B dugout in the second. That was farther than his infield single rolled on the next pitch. ... Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, who left Sunday's game with discomfort, has been cleared to pitch. ... 1B Mike Hessman, the active leader in career minor league home runs with 329, reported to the Mets. Manuel said he plans to start Hessman on Wednesday night.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)