ST. LOUIS – Carlos Delgado and the rest of the Mets broke out their big bats just in time, ravaging the Cardinals' bullpen to make sure the NL championship series will end back in New York. Delgado put New York ahead with a three-run homer, then busted open the game with a two-run double, leading the Mets to a record-setting 12-5 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday night that tied the best-of-seven series at two games apiece.
After getting held scoreless for 14 innings through the second, the Mets came to life and set a team record for runs and homers in a postseason game, more than enough offense to back Oliver Perez, who was forced into the rotation because of injuries to Pedro Martinez and Orlando Hernandez. New York had 14 hits, one night after getting just three.
"If we can get this back to New York, I'm pretty confident," Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon said before the game. "We play well at home, and the New York fans are a 10th player for us."
But before the series returns to Shea Stadium, Tom Glavine (15-7) is to start for the Mets on Monday night, with Jeff Weaver (5-4) pitching for the Cardinals in a matchup of Game 1 starters. Both would be pitching on three days' rest, but rain is possible.
Perez, acquired July 31 from Pittsburgh along with Roberto Hernandez in the Xavier Nady deal, gave up solo homers to David Eckstein, Jim Edmonds and Yadier Molina. He never retired the side in order but lasted 5 2-3 innings.
Cardinals rookie Anthony Reyes, who like Perez was pitching in a game for the first time since Oct. 1, allowed runners in all four of his innings and walked four, but he gave up his only runs on the third-inning homers by Beltran and Wright, which put the Mets ahead 2-1.
Delgado already has nine RBIs in the NLCS, tying the Mets postseason record for a series, set by Gary Carter in the World Series. Delgado already has set a team record with six extra-base hits, four of them homers — and all to the opposite field.
Beltran kept up his role as a Cardinal-killer: He batted .417 against St. Louis with four homers in the 2004 NLCS as a member of the Houston Astros. During the regular season, the Mets were 9-1 when Delgado and Beltran homered in the same game.
Thousands of red-clad Cardinals fans waving white towels to support their team filled the new Busch Stadium on a cool night, hoping their team would move within one win of a World Series date with the Detroit Tigers — who beat the Cardinals in the 1968 Series.
Molina put St. Louis on top in the second with an RBI single and, after the homers by Beltran and Wright, Juan Encarnacion hit a tying triple in the bottom half.
Cardinals manager Tony La Russa sent in a pinch hitter for Reyes in the fourth, and Brad Thompson entered in the fifth. Paul Lo Duca reached when second baseman Ronnie Belliard misplayed his leadoff grounder for an error, Beltran singled and Delgado stayed with an outside 2-0 pitch a few rows into the left-field seats.
Eckstein, who homered just twice in the regular season, connected leading off the bottom half to pull the Cardinals to 5-3. But the Mets loaded the Mets with no outs in the sixth against Josh Hancock, and La Russa didn't seem to have a lefty ready to bring in to face Delgado.
Delgado lofted a fly ball to deep left that Scott Spiezio didn't get a good jump on, and the ball went over the fence on a hop for a double. A walk to Wright reloaded the bases, Tyler Johnson relieved, and Shawn Green singled to make it 8-3. Valentin then cleared the bases with a double down the left-field line, sending many fans streaming up the aisles.
Perez left after allowing homers to Edmonds and Molina in the bottom half, and Beltran connected for his second solo homer in the seventh, a drive off former-Met Braden Looper.
Notes:@ Delgado tied the Mets' record for home runs in an NLCS, set by Rusty Staub in 1973, and his five RBIs tied the team postseason record, set by Staub in Game 4 of the 1973 World Series and matched by Edgardo Alfonso in the 1999 division series opener.