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Cards Freese Mets

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New York Mets shortstop Jose Reyes, left, avoids the slide from St. Louis Cardinals' Yadier Molina as Molina is forced out at second during the sixth inning of a baseball game Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2011, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

New York Mets shortstop Jose Reyes, left, avoids the slide from St. Louis Cardinals’ Yadier Molina as Molina is forced out at second during the sixth inning of a baseball game Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2011, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

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ST. LOUIS (AP) _ David Freese drove in five runs with a go-ahead
three-run homer and a triple, and the surging St. Louis Cardinals
beat the New York Mets 6-5 Wednesday night.

The Cardinals have won four straight and 12 of 14 to move within
11/2 games of Atlanta in the National League wild-card race. St.
Louis, a season-high 17 over .500 (86-69), has seven games left and
will go for a sweep of the Mets on Thursday.

The Mets fell to 73-82, ensuring the third straight losing
season for the big-spending ballclub that has been plagued by
injuries and off-field financial woes this year.

Jaime Garcia (13-7), making his 30th start, pitched around four
unearned runs in 7 2-3 innings. He gave up six hits and struck out
five.

Jason Motte got four outs for his eighth save in 12
opportunities but allowed a solo home run to Willie Harris in the
ninth.

Albert Pujols went 2 for 4 with two runs scored to extend his
hitting streak to six games and up his average to .305. Pujols has
now reached base safely in 37 straight games. He is hitting .500
during his six-game streak (13 for 26).

Allen Craig drove in the Cardinals’ other run with an RBI
single.

Mets shortstop Jose Reyes went 1 for 4, dropping his to .330 _
and tie him with Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun for the National League
batting lead.

The Mets led 4-3 after six and the Cardinals were going quietly
in the seventh when Pujols singled to center off reliever Miguel
Batista with two outs.

Mets manager Terry Collins brought in lefty Daniel Herrera (0-1)
to make Lance Berkman bat right-handed, but Berkman foiled the
strategy by singling to left.

Collins then went to righty Pedro Beato and Freese tagged him
for a 389-foot, opposite field homer to right to give the Cardinals
a 6-4 advantage. The homer was the 10th for Freese, who has 54
RBIs.

With a 3-0 lead, Garcia struck out the first two batters to
begin the third. But Mets starter Chris Schwinden kept the frame
alive with a single to right and Reyes followed with a double down
the left field line. Both scored when Angel Pagan’s grounder went
under shortstop Rafael Furcal’s glove for an error to make it 3-2.

David Wright followed Pagan with an infield single in the hole
to shortstop. Pinch-hitter Josh Satin then gave the Mets a 4-3
advantage with a double to the gap in left-center.

Schwinden retired the first two batters he faced to begin the
game, but then gave up a double to right to Pujols. He then
intentionally walked Berkman, and Freese made him pay for that with
a triple down the right-field that scored Pujols and Berkman.

The Cardinals loaded the bases in the second with one out on an
infield single by Yadier Molina, a double by Skip Schumaker and a
hit-by-pitch to Furcal. Craig singled to center to make it 3-0, but
Schwinden got Pujols to pop out to first and Berkman to fly out to
left the end the threat.

NOTES: New York’s Chris Capuano (11-12) will face the Cardinals’
Jake Westbrook (12-8) in the series finale Thursday. … Satin
pinch-hit for Lucas Duda, who left the game with dizziness after
running into the wall trying to catch Freese’s triple. … Garcia’s
five strikeouts, giving him 151 for the season. He is the 17th
left-handed pitcher to reach 150 strikeouts in a season and the
first since Rick Ankiel fanned 194 in 2000. … Schumaker’s
second-inning double snapped an 0-for-15 skid.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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