for this game

Reyes, Beltran return to lift Mets over Cardinals

Jul 20, 2011 - 5:07 AM Flushing, NY (Sports Network) - Jose Reyes returned to the lineup Tuesday night and went 2-for-5 with a run scored, helping the New York Mets take a 4-2 win over the St. Louis Cardinals in the opener of a three-game series.

Reyes had been on the disabled list since July 3, a day after he suffered a strained left hamstring while running to first base during a 5-2 loss to the Yankees.

In the final year of a contract, the 2011 All-Star raised his average to an MLB-leading .355.

"Anytime you win the game, it's fun," Reyes said. "I was able to move around on the field pretty good today."

Also back in the lineup for New York was right fielder Carlos Beltran, who had missed the past three games with the flu. He had been on fire prior to the illness and he continued that on Tuesday, reaching base in all five plate appearances. He went 3-for-3 with two doubles, two walks and a run scored.

The return of those two helped make a winner out of Dillon Gee (9-3). The rookie snapped a two-start losing streak after throwing seven innings, in which he gave up just two runs on three hits with two walks and two strikeouts.

"The electricity he brings lifts the club," Mets manager Terry Collins said of Beltran's return. "He's the number three guy, he gets back in there after he'd been out for three days with the flu and he walks up there like he hasn't missed a beat."

Daniel Murphy and Angel Pagan each hit a two-run double for New York, which had lost five of its last six contests.

Lance Berkman hit a solo home run and scored twice for the Cardinals, who have dropped three of their last four.

Kyle Lohse's (8-7) recent struggles continued, as he dropped his third straight start after giving up four runs on 10 hits over 5 2/3 innings. He also drove in the other run for St. Louis.

The loss, combined with Pittsburgh's 1-0 win over Cincinnati on Tuesday night, moved St. Louis to 1 1/2 games back of the surprising Pirates for first place in the NL Central.

After the Mets stranded runners on second and third in the fourth, the Cardinals went ahead in the fifth. With one out, Berkman walked and David Freese followed with a single that hit off of Gee. After Yadier Molina flied out, Lohse helped his own cause with a single to center for a 1-0 advantage.

Lohse gave it right back, though, in the bottom of the frame. Reyes and Justin Turner hit consecutive singles and Beltran walked to load the bases with no outs. After Murphy lined out to short, Pagan doubled to right to plate two runners.

The pitcher was able to limit the damage as he struck out Jason Bay and, after walking Lucas Duda to again load the bases, got Ronny Paulino to line out and end the frame with the Mets ahead 2-1.

However, the Mets plated two more in the sixth on a two-out rally. Turner kept the frame alive with a single and Beltran followed with walk to chase Lohse from the game.

Raul Valdes stepped onto the hill and promptly served up a double to Murphy that scored both runners for a 4-1 lead. Pagan flied out to end the frame.

The Cardinals got one back in the seventh on a one-out homer to right-center from Berkman.

St. Louis wasted a golden opportunity in the eighth off of reliever Bobby Parnell as they team loaded the bases with one out. Albert Pujols stepped to the plate with a chance to do some damage, but hit into a 6-3 double play.

"We gave ourselves a chance late," Berkman said. "We had the guy you want up there in the situation that you want, so I felt like we did a good job of giving ourselves a chance late in the game."

The Cardinals went down quietly in the ninth as Jason Isringhausen picked up his first save of the season.

Game Notes

Beltran has reached base safely in 25 straight games...New York has now won four of the seven games in the season series...New York left 13 runners on base...Lohse fell to 2-4 in nine career starts against the Mets...R.A. Dickey takes the hill for New York on Wednesday while Kyle McClellan will pitch for the Cardinals.