NEW YORK (AP) — Allen Craig hit a tiebreaking, two-run homer in the eighth inning and the St. Louis Cardinals found a bit of missing pop, beating the New York Mets 5-4 Monday and stopping their season-worst losing streak at five.
The Cardinals have never been swept in a four-game series in New York. The World Series champions had been outscored 19-1 by the Mets and no-hit by Johan Santana before salvaging the finale at Citi Field.
Pinch hitter Scott Hairston and Lucas Duda homered for the Mets, who missed a chance to move all alone into the NL East lead.
Craig connected one out after Matt Holliday hit a leadoff single against Jon Rauch (3-5) for a 5-3 lead.
The Mets got closer in the bottom half when Andres Torres hit a long sacrifice fly, but closer Jason Motte retired David Wright on an inning-ending liner to right field with a runner at third base.
Motte finished for his ninth save in 12 chances. Marc Rzepczynski (1-3) wound up with the win despite allowing Hairston's eighth career pinch-hit homer in the seventh, a two-run shot with two outs that made it 3-all.
Cardinals starter Kyle Lohse pitched six sharp innings and allowed only two hits, including Duda's solo homer halfway up the second deck in the fourth.
Dillon Gee limited the Cardinals to Craig's RBI single before a costly wild toss in the seventh.
With runners at the corners, no outs and the score 1-all, Gee gloved Daniel Descalso's comebacker and looked Craig back to third. Gee then tried to start a double play, but bounced his throw into center field and twisted his head in disgust. The go-ahead run scored on the error, and Rafael Furcal's RBI grounder made it 5-3.
The Cardinals took their first lead of the series in the fourth. Holliday led off with a double, moved up on a groundout and scored when Craig bounced a single through the partly pulled-in infield.
St. Louis tried to generate offense any way it could. Yadier Molina moved into the cleanup spot for the second time this season, and Carlos Beltran swung at a 3-0 pitch and grounded out to end the third with a runner on first.
After playing the Mets on Sunday night, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny also let his players arrive late on a rainy morning, with most of them getting to the ballpark about two hours before game time.
NOTES: Mets LHP Johan Santana will make his next start Friday night at Yankee Stadium. The Mets wanted to give him extra rest after threw a career-high 134 pitches Friday night in the team's first no-hitter. The NL Player of the Week is keeping busy, though — he was presenting the Top Ten list on David Letterman's "Late Show" on Monday night. ... Mets LHP Jonathon Niese was having tests a day after his heart "started racing." He had the same condition during a game last year and later wore a heart monitor of the bench. ... Mets RHP Chris Young, who missed most of last season because of shoulder surgery and has been in the minors this year, is ready to start Tuesday night at Washington. ... OF Jason Bay (broken rib) could return to the Mets' lineup Tuesday night. ... St. Louis LHP Jaime Garcia, scratched from his last turn because of a sore elbow, is set to start Tuesday night at Houston. ... Cardinals CF Shane Robinson again was out of the starting lineup. He was scratched Sunday night with a migraine. ... Matheny was eager to see Monday night's MLB draft. His son, Tate, is a CF who led his high school to the state title and is widely regarded as the best prep player in the St. Louis area. ... The Mets swept a four-game series at St. Louis in 1986.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.