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Beltran, Glavine lead Mets past Cardinals in NLCS opener

Oct 13, 2006 - 3:17 AM FLUSHING, New York (Ticker) -- Carlos Beltran may be wearing a different uniform, but he continues to haunt the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Championship Series.

Beltran hit a two-run homer to snap a sixth-inning tie and Tom Glavine had another outstanding postseason start with seven strong innings as the New York Mets edged the Cardinals, 2-0, in the opener of their best-of-seven series.

Two Octobers ago, Beltran was with the Houston Astros when he enjoyed one of the best postseasons in baseball history. His unforgettable run included a seven-game NLCS loss to the Cardinals in which he hit .417 and belted four homers.

"Every time you do something in October, it means a lot. The postseason I had with the Astros against St. Louis, that was a great postseason," Beltran said. "I can't be thinking about what I did in 2004 because it's 2006 and I just need to continue to do it."

Beltran signed with the Mets the winter after the 2004 season and remained the Cardinals' playoff nemesis Thursday, connecting off Jeff Weaver (1-1) to snap a scoreless tie.

"Big-time players rise to the occasion in big-time situations," Mets third baseman David Wright said. "Carlos is a big-time player."

Beltran also hit a walk-off homer to beat the Cardinals on August 22 at Shea Stadium.

"(It was) a bad flashback to when we were here in August when he did that to us,' Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said.

The two runs would be enough for Glavine (2-0), who has assumed the role of postseason ace due to injuries to Pedro Martinez and Orlando Hernandez. With the Cardinals moving up star righthander Chris Carpenter to pitch Game Two, Thursday's outing took on even greater importance for the Mets.

"I understand the importance of when I pitch now," Glavine said. "But at the same time, I'm trying my best to mentally play games with myself and dismiss that."

The Mets are 26-8 in games started by Glavine this season, including the playoffs.

"You always feel confident when you give him the ball because he's a horse, prepared and ready to go," Mets manager Willie Randolph said.

Glavine threw six scoreless innings to win his lone start in the NLDS - a 4-1 triumph against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game Two - and the 40-year-old lefthander was even better in this one.

Retiring the leadoff batter in every inning, the two-time Cy Young Award winner scattered four hits, walked two, struck out two and benefited from a pair of double plays. Glavine pitched carefully to Cardinals superstar Albert Pujols, allowing just a walk in three at-bats.

"We didn't swing the bats well today," Pujols said. "It doesn't matter who was pitching for us. The way we were swinging, we wouldn't have won."

Guillermo Mota walked one in the eighth and retired Preston Wilson for the final out, leaving Pujols in the on-deck circle.

Billy Wagner retired Pujols on a line drive to first to open the ninth and got Juan Encarnacion on a grounder to second. The hard-throwing lefthander issued a walk to Scott Rolen, but retired pinch hitter Scott Spiezio on a flare to second base to complete the four-hitter.

Glavine faced his first threat when Yadier Molina and Weaver singled with one out in the third, but David Eckstein lined into a double play. A double play also ended the fourth when Pujols - who had walked - was caught off first when Beltran snagged a fly ball by Encarnacion in shallow center field and fired a one-hop strike to first.

The Cardinals put two runners on with two outs in the fifth before Weaver struck out against Glavine to end the frame.

Weaver allowed just a single and a walk through the first five innings before Paul Lo Duca singled with one out in the sixth. Beltran then belted a 2-2 pitch well over the right-center field fence.

Weaver was charged with two runs and four hits in 5 2/3 innings for the Cardinals, who will try to even the series when the teams reunite here Friday night.

"One pitch doesn't normally determine the outcome of a game, but tonight it did," Weaver said.

The win, however, may turn out to be a costly one for the Mets.

Left fielder Cliff Floyd was forced to leave the game after two innings after aggravating an injury to his left Achilles tendon that almost kept him off the NLCS roster. Floyd, who is listed as day-to-day, was injured while running out a foul ball in the bottom of the second.

"I just don't know (if I can play)," said Floyd, who added that his foot feels worse than when he also aggravated the injury Saturday against the Dodgers. "It's not about me. It's about leaving the team shorthanded."

Endy Chavez replaced Floyd and made a diving catch on a fly ball by Ronnie Belliard in the fifth.

Carlos Delgado had a pair of doubles for the Mets and is hitting .444 (8-for-18) this postseason.

The winner of Game One of the NLCS has advanced to the World Series in 12 of the last 13 seasons.

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