July 3, 2008

Glaus spoils Mets comeback with walk-off homer

Troy Glaus electrified the Busch Stadium crowd last night with some ninth inning heroics, a two-out walk-off home run to give the St. Louis Cardinals an 8-7 victory over the New York Mets.

Glaus had homered earlier in the game, but he wasn't the only Card playing longball. Rick Ankiel went deep in the fifth and Chris Duncan a two-run shot in the eighth. The Duncan homer tied the game, setting up the opportunity for Glaus to win it in the Cards' last at-bats.

The late-game homers, however, were necessary after the Mets had fought their way back from an early four-run deficit, tying the game in the fourth inning. Joel Pineiro didn't exactly cruise through the Mets' lineup, and by the time he'd pitched five innings, he'd given up 11 hits. The Mets' four runs to that point were all earned.

After the Cards edged ahead a run in the fifth on Ankiels solo homer, Tony La Russa brought on Kyle McClellan in relief to start the sixth. Mets' manager Jerry Manuel also changed hurlers, bringing in Joe Smith, closing the book on Pedro Martinez, who, after getting thwacked in the first inning, settled more and more as he went through his five innings or work. Martinez allowed 7 hits, but all five Cardinals runs were earned.

The seventh inning found the Mets rallying, showing the kind of offense they displayed the night before, not hitting for as many extra bases as one might imagine, but making a lot of contact. La Russa used three relievers in an effort to quell the Mets' surge.

McCllellan started off what would be the most disasterous inning for the Redbirds by walking David Wright, the potential tying run. McClellan did manage to get Cardinal-killer Carlos Beltran to pop out, but got the hook at that point, La Russa bringing on the left-hander, Mark Mulder, to face Ryan Church.

Mulder pitched Church well, but fell victim to a flare hit to left field. Compounding the problem of Mets' base runners while holding a scant one-run lead, Mulder threw a wild pitch, allowing both Wright and Church to advance. Carlos Delgado made Mulder and the Cards pay then, driving a line shot back up through the box, scoring that tying run in Wright, Church moving over to third base.

The Mets put forth more fundamental run-scoring strategy, Damion Easley hitting a sacrifice fly to left field, Schumaker too deep and with no forward movement to have a chance at throwing out Church at home. The sac-play nudged up the Mets' lead to one at 6-5. When Mulder hit the next batter, Brian Schneider, La Russa had little choice but to replace him, calling upon Russ Springer, who allowed a bloop hit from pinch-hitter Fernando Tatis. Delgado scored on the play, putting the Mets up 7-5 but.

Down two runs, the innings became more desperate for the Cardinals. Manuel called upon Aaron Heilman to make sure the Cardinals could not inch their way back. Neither Albert Pujols, Ankiel, and Glaus could reach against Heilman.

La Russa used more of the Cardinal bullpen, relieving Springer with Chris Perez. The Mets threatened when Wright ripped a one-out triple, but Perez fought out of the jam, striking out Beltran and getting Church to ground out.

Trailing 7-5, it was the Cardinals turn to take advantage of a mistake. After Heilman hit Ryan Ludwick, Chris Duncan pinch-hit for Jason LaRue. Manuel countered with Pedro Feliciano. The strategy failed, however, when Duncan took Feliciano deep to right field, the two-run shot tying up the game at 7-apiece.

Closer Ryan Franklin turned away any chance for a Mets rally, stopping Delgado, Easley, and Schneider.

Carlos Muniz was charged with stopping the Cardinals in the bottom of the ninth, staring off by getting Pujols to foul out. Ankiel then flew out to center.

Down to the last out and the possibility of extra innings, Glaus delivered the game-winner, a walk-off home run to give the Cardinals an 8-7 win.

The thrilling win gave the Cardinals a 2-1 lead in the four-game series with the Mets and their 49th victory of the season.

photo by Barbara Moore