August 22, 2006: Delgado and Beltran Outslug Pujols

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Date: August 22, 2006
Mets starter: John Maine
Mets: 8
Cardinals: 7
Winning pitcher: Aaron Heilman
Key player(s): Carlos Delgado, Carlos Beltran, Albert Pujols
Key play: Pujols’s two home runs, Delgado’s two home runs, Beltran’s homer in 9th

The Mets played the Cardinals on a Tuesday night at Shea Stadium. The teams began a three-game series with a slugging battle. A pair of home runs by Carlos Delgado and a ninth-inning blast by Carlos Beltran trumped a two-homer performance by the Cards’ Albert Pujols to give the Mets an 8-7 win.

John Maine and St. Louis starter Jeff Weaver each pitched a perfect first inning. In the top of the second, Maine again set down the Redbirds in order. Delgado led off the bottom of the inning with a home run for a 1-0 Mets lead. David Wright grounded out to third baseman Scott Rolen before a single by Michael Tucker. Weaver retired the next two batters to end the inning. Maine pitched another 1-2-3 inning in the top of the third and Weaver did the same in the bottom half.

In the top of the fourth, Aaron Miles got a leadoff single for the Cardinals’ first hit of the game. Chris Duncan followed with a double to right field. Pujols hit a home run to put St. Louis ahead, 3-1. Maine set down the next three St. Louis batters. The Mets had two runners on base with one out in the bottom of the inning. Weaver then retired Endy Chavez and Chris Woodward to end the New York scoring chance.

A single by Ronnie Belliard opened the top of the fifth inning. On an ensuing double to left field by Yadier Molina, Belliard was out at home on a relay from Tucker to shortstop Jose Reyes to catcher Paul Lo Duca. Weaver struck out and back-to-back walks to Miles and Duncan loaded the bases. Pujols followed with a grand slam to extend the Cards’ lead to 7-1. Maine then got Rolen on a called third strike for the final out of the inning.

Pinch-hitting for Maine, Ricky Ledee drew a leadoff walk to begin the bottom of the fifth. Ledee moved to second base on catcher Molina’s passed ball and Reyes reached first on left fielder Duncan’s error. Lo Duca singled to load the bases and Beltran hit a ground ball back to Weaver for a force out on Ledee at home. An ensuing grand slam by Delgado (his 400th career home run) reduced the Redbirds’ lead to 7-5. Weaver then fanned Wright and Tucker for the last two outs of the inning.

Mets’ reliever Guillermo Mota pitched a scoreless top of the sixth. Against St. Louis reliever Adam Wainwright, Chavez got a bunt single and Woodward drew a walk to begin the bottom half. Pinch-hitter Jose Valentin’s sacrifice bunt moved the runners to second and third base. Chavez came home to score on Reyes’ groundout to second baseman Belliard. Wainwright retired Lo Duca on a ground ball to shortstop Miles to end the inning. Five relievers from both teams then teamed up to pitch scoreless ball in the seventh and eighth.

For the Mets, Aaron Heilman pitched a perfect top of the ninth inning. Cardinals’ reliever Jason Isringhausen retired Reyes on a grounder to Belliard to start the bottom half. Lo Duca singled to center field and Beltran came to bat. Carlos hit a two-run homer to end the game. The Mets had overcome Pujols’ super slugging with their own display of power for an exciting victory over the Redbirds.