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Suppan leads Cardinals to 2-1 series lead over Mets

Oct 15, 2006 - 3:30 AM ST. LOUIS (Ticker) -- The New York Mets have more than Chris Carpenter to worry about.

Jeff Suppan pitched eight brilliant innings and also homered as the St. Louis Cardinals took advantage of wildness by Steve Trachsel to post a 5-0 victory over the Mets and take a two games to one lead in the National League Championship Series.

The Cardinals struggled badly down the stretch of the regular season as their starting pitchers, other than reigning Cy Young Award winner Carpenter, continuously came up short.

But Suppan (1-1), who suffered the Cardinals' lone loss in the NLDS against the San Diego Padres, was in complete control in this contest, allowing just three hits and a walk with four strikeouts.

After Scott Spiezio tripled in two runs in the first inning, Suppan even added to the offense by hitting his second career homer - both against Trachsel - to lead off the second inning for a 3-0 lead.

Spiezio entered the game 14-for-20 with runners in scoring position - the best mark in postseason history. Trachsel (0-1) then walked David Eckstein and was struck on the left leg by a hard liner by Preston Wilson. After taking a few minutes to try and shake off the pain, Trachsel continued but walked Albert Pujols to load the bases. The righthander then was removed because of the injury, giving way to Darren Oliver.

Eckstein scored on a wild pitch by Oliver and Wilson came home on a groundout by Jim Edmonds to cap the frame.

Trachsel allowed five runs, five hits and five walks despite facing just 12 batters. He also struggled in his lone NLDS start, lasting just 3 1/3 innings in Game Three against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Oliver kept New York within striking distance, yielding just three hits over six scoreless frames. But the Mets' offense could mount nothing against Suppan, who looked nothing like the pitcher that was tagged for four runs and six hits in 6 2/3 frames in Game Three against San Diego.

Suppan allowed a two-out single to Carlos Beltran in the first and a two-out triple to Jose Reyes in the third. Jose Valentin singled with one out in the fifth, but was thrown out by right fielder Wilson trying to advance to second base. The only other batter to reach was Shawn Green, who led off the eighth with a walk.

Rookie Josh Kinney capped the three-hitter with a perfect ninth.

Scott Rolen, who did not start in Game Two because of a sore shoulder, returned to the lineup for St. Louis and went 1-for-3.

Although New York lost, Oliver's performance may turn out to be key for the remainder of the series.

The Mets had to go to the bullpen in the fifth inning of their 9-6 loss Friday and have erratic lefthander Oliver Perez going on Sunday. Because of Oliver, New York manager Willie Randolph now fill have a full complement of relievers for Game Four here Sunday.

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