ST. LOUIS (AP) — Adam Wainwright threw a four-hitter with nine strikeouts and scored on Ryan Ludwick's tiebreaking two-run homer in the eighth inning of the St. Louis Cardinals' 5-3 victory over the New York Mets on Sunday night.
Colby Rasmus snapped an 0-for-18 slump with a tying three-run homer in the fifth against the Mets, who dropped two of three and have lost four straight series to open the season for the first time since 1997. Ludwick hit the first pitch from Ryota Igarashi over the left field wall to score Wainwright, who had doubled off Pedro Feliciano with one out.
Tobi Stoner (0-1), recalled from Triple-A Buffalo earlier in the day, allowed a run on three hits in 2 1-3 innings. Angel Pagan had two hits and two RBIs.
Ludwick was 2 for 2 and walked three times, doubling his season total, and Matt Holliday was 3 for 3 with a walk to end an 0-for-16 slump. Mostly, the Cardinals leaned heavily on stingy starting pitching that allowed four earned runs in 45 innings during a 4-2 homestand while surmounting a lack of clutch hitting.
St. Louis stranded 10 runners, four times leaving two on, a day after 22 men were left on in a marathon 2-1, 20-inning loss.
Wainwright (3-0) allowed only four singles and needed 107 pitches for his fourth career complete game. Plus he shook off a costly early error a day after receiving his first Gold Glove. The Mets bunched three of the hits in a three-run second, one of the runs unearned after Wainwright's wild throw.
New York had no extra-base hits the final two games of the series.
Rasmus' third homer tied it at 3 in the fifth against John Maine, who has allowed four homers his first three starts. The Cardinals had at least two baserunners all five innings against Maine, who threw 115 pitches and hasn't lasted longer than five innings in any of his first three starts.
The lone assist by the Mets in the first five innings was right fielder Jeff Francoeur's throw to the plate to nail Ludwick trying to score from second for the final out in the first.
The Mets were 1 for 17 with runners in scoring position the first two games before getting a pair of hits plus Wainwright's crucial throwing error for a 3-0 lead in the second. Gary Matthews Jr. singled to load the bases before Pagan's two-run single.
Pagan was stranded between first and second when Wainwright, backing up on a late throw to the plate, motioned to first baseman Albert Pujols and then floated a high throw into right field that allowed Matthews to score and Pagan to advance to third.
NOTES: Pujols received his MVP and Silver Slugger awards in a pregame ceremony. ... Cardinals C Yadier Molina played all 20 innings Saturday and played the whole game Sunday.