Matt Holliday hit a two-run homer as part of a three-run seventh inning in the St. Louis Cardinals' 6-3 victory over the New York Mets on Monday in the opener of a four-game set at Busch Stadium.
Matt Carpenter had two RBI singles, while Allen Craig and Jon Jay each drove in one run for the Cardinals, who broke a 3-3 tie in the seventh off Mets reliever Scott Rice (1-3) and added another run off Scott Atchison to take control.
Lance Lynn (6-1), who won his seventh straight regular-season home start dating back to last season, allowed all three New York runs on four hits. The right-hander walked five, but struck out seven for St. Louis, which has won 10 of 12.
"He's a horse. He comes out and gives us seven innings," Holliday said of Lynn. "He's just one of our big guys."
Daniel Murphy went 3-for-4 with a two-run double and David Wright plated a run for the Mets, who saw starter Jeremy Hefner allow three runs on five hits and walk four over six innings.
New York has dropped four straight and 12 of 16 overall.
With one out in the seventh, pinch-hitter Ty Wiggington appeared to hit a harmless bloop to center field. New York's newly acquired Rick Ankiel, who met the team in St. Louis prior to the game and made the start while using teammates' equipment, dove for the ball and had it in his glove, but let slip out, and Wiggington ended up on second base.
"I feel like if I get a glove on it I should catch it," a disappointed Ankiel said.
Carpenter then hit a line drive off Rice's foot in the direction of the first base line, but Rice and Mets catcher John Buck both went after the ball. During the play, Wiggington alertly hustled all the way home from second and Rice's tag just missed his diving attempt, as the Cardinals took a 4-3 lead.
Rice struck out Carlos Beltran and was replaced by Scott Atchison. Holliday, though, all but sunk the Mets' hope of a comeback with a two-out, two-run shot to left to give St. Louis a 6-3 lead.
Both pitchers struggled with control through the first two frames, while each team's offenses made the most of the opportunities.
In the home half of the first, Craig smacked a ground-rule double to give St. Louis a 1-0 edge. After Yadier Molina drew a walk, Jay followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 2-0.
In the top of the second, Lynn walked Mike Baxter to load the bases with two outs before Murphy hit a double to right tie the game at 2-2. Wright followed with a infield single over the pitchers mound to put the Mets ahead 3-2.
In the bottom half of the second, Hefner gave up consecutive singles and Lynn helped his own cause with a sac bunt to put runners in scoring position. Carpenter answered, though, with a single in the hole to knot the game at 3-3.
Hefner looked to get in more trouble as he walked Beltran, but the righty ended the inning by forcing Holliday to ground into a double play.
Interestingly, however, both hurlers settled down and had mirrored 1-2-3 efforts in every frame from the fourth through the sixth. The contest quickly changed, though, with the starters off the mound.
New York optioned outfielder Andrew Brown to Triple-A Las Vegas and transferred pitcher Jenrry Mejia to the 60-day disabled list following the addition of the 33-year-old Ankiel to the roster ... Lynn, who picked up his first loss of the season in his last outing on May 7, has never dropped back- to-back starts in his career ... The Mets have scored three or fewer runs in seven straight games and in 12 of their last 16 games ... New York has lost all eight games - including seven starts - when Hefner has pitched this season.