for this game

Delgado, Beltran power Mets to crucial win vs. Cardinals

Oct 16, 2006 - 3:41 AM ST. LOUIS (Ticker) -- Carlos Delgado and the New York Mets' offense got well against a St. Louis Cardinals bullpen that had been making opponents feel ill of late.

Delgado homered and drove in five runs against a bullpen that had been untouchable in the postseason as the Mets evened their National League Championship Series with the Cardinals at two games apiece with a 12-5 victory.

Carlos Beltran homered twice for New York, which entered the game scoreless in its last 12 innings, including a three-hit shutout in Game Two, and was batting just .196 through the first three contests of the series.

By clubbing 14 hits, including four homers, New York set a franchise postseason record for runs and assured the series of returning to the "Big Apple" for at least a Game Six on Wednesday.

"I knew we weren't going to get just three hits again," Delgado said. "We just put (Saturday's game) behind us. ... We made (Anthony Reyes) work. I think he was around 75 pitches in the fourth inning."

"We know we have a good offense," Mets third baseman David Wright said. "We got shut down yesterday but we know we have a potent lineup. One swing of the bat can get us going; hitting's contagious."

With the game tied at 2-2 in the fifth, the Mets broke through after the Cardinals' bullpen took over for Reyes.

Paul Lo Duca led off the frame against Brad Thompson (0-1) by reaching on an error by second baseman Ronnie Belliard. Beltran followed with a base hit to right field before Delgado drilled a 2-0 outside fastball into the left field seats for his third homer of the series and a 5-2 lead. It also was just New York's third hit in 20 at-bats with runners in scoring position this series.

St. Louis relievers entered the frame having allowed just a run and five hits in 20 2/3 innings this postseason, including one hit in 27 at-bats with runners in scoring position.

However, Thompson and Randy Flores combined to allow three runs and four hits in the the fifth inning alone and the pounding continued in the sixth against Josh Hancock, as the Mets tied a franchise Championship Series mark with six runs in the frame.

"I didn't do my job today," Hancock said. "They just had some hot bats. It took a while for it to stop. One through eight, they're really good hitters. They get momentum on their side and they start hitting balls."

"It was a rough night, especially the two righthanders," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "They are kicking themselves and beating themselves up in the clubhouse. But they are both capable of doing things differently to get better results."

Jose Reyes led off with a walk and Lo Duca followed with a perfectly executed hit-and-run single through the left side of the infield. After Beltran worked a walk, Delgado bounced another misplaced fastball over the left field fence for a ground-rule double to plate two more runs for a 7-3 edge.

"The approach (Delgado) has, the adjustments he makes are amazing," Wright said. "He's a professional hitter, hits the ball the other way with the best of them. He's a tremendous hitter, (he) can carry a team."

Delgado tied the club's postseason record for RBI in a game and set the club mark with nine RBI in a Championship Series contest. Todd Zeile drove in eight runs in the 2000 NLCS against St. Louis and Gary Carter did it against Boston in the 1986 World Series.

"(Delgado's) been for a long time one of the best hitters in the game," Mets manager Willie Randolph said. "He's been doing it a long time. He's just a great all-around hitter and I'm just glad to see that the world or the country is seeing him on stage like this, showing what a great, great hitter he is."

Delgado, playing in his first postseason, had played 1,711 games without a postseason appearance - the longest active streak in the major leagues.

"For me it's a good feeling," Delgado said. "I played 12 1/2 years and never sniffed the playoffs. This is what every athlete wants to be in, the playoffs with an opportunity to win, and it couldn't happen to a better group of guys. I'm enjoying these playoffs, it's a blast, but I guess it's going to be that much sweeter when you win it."

After a four-pitch walk to Wright loaded the bases, Tyler Johnson entered and New York teed off against him. Shawn Green dumped an RBI single into left-center field before Jose Valentin cleared the bases with a three-run double into the left field corner for an 11-3 cushion.

"This just fires us up even more," Johnson said. "We're going to come back out tomorrow and give it our best and not let that happen again. It's just a matter of making pitches and not letting the game get carried away.

"Sometimes it goes as it did tonight. It's just more fire for us and I think it's just going to fuel it and it's going to blow up in their face."

If any pitcher needed the support, it was New York starter Oliver Perez (1-0), who was 3-13 with a 6.55 ERA - the highest ERA of any pitcher ever to start a postseason game - during the regular season.

In his first outing since September 26, the hard-throwing lefthander worked into the sixth inning, something he failed to do in 12 of his 29 starts during the season with New York and Pittsburgh.

"I was in focus the whole game," Perez said. "More importantly I kept our team in the game and we were able to score a lot of runs."

In 2004, the enigmatic 25-year-old was second in the NL in strikeouts (239) and sixth in ERA (2.98) before flopping with the Pirates, who traded him and reliever Roberto Hernandez for Xavier Nady at the trade deadline.

Perez was charged with five runs and nine hits in 5 2/3 innings. He left after surrendering sixth-inning homers to Yadier Molina and Jim Edmonds.

"(Perez) did a great job," Delgado said. "He kept us in the game until we took the lead and he gave us six good innings. We really needed that. This is a big guy that hadn't pitched in a couple of weeks, and it was nice for him to go out there and throw the ball the way he did."

Chad Bradford, Pedro Feliciano and Guillermo Mota finished up for New York. Beltran and Wright each homered off Anthony Reyes in the third inning to give New York a 2-1 lead, and Beltran's third blast of this series and seventh in 11 postseason games all-time against St. Louis increased the bulge to 12-5 in the seventh.

"I have no explanation for (the home runs)," Beltran said. "Nobody goes to the plate looking for home runs, they just happen. When you make good contact, when you have a good approach, today I was seeing the ball good, made good contact and the ball went out."

"(Beltran's) been on this stage before," Randolph said. "He seems to rise to the occasion when the big games come around, you make a mistake with him, he'll make you pay for it."

No one has shouted yet.
Be the first!