The champagne stayed on ice, and so did the NLCS as rookie John Maine pitched the Mets to a 4-2 win over the Cardinals Wednesday. The series now comes down to a win-or-go-home Game 7 Thursday.
Maine escaped trouble early, putting runners on second and third in the first inning with only one out. He made quick work of Jim Edmonds – striking him out on three pitches – before hitting Juan Encarnacion and loading the bases. Scott Rolen fouled off a few pitches working a 2-2 count then flied out to end the inning. Maine was removed from the game after shutting the Redbirds out on two hits and striking out five over 5 1/3 innings.
Jose Reyes helped the Mets release any nervous energy hitting a leadoff home run in the first.
New York added another run in the fourth when Shawn Green singled in Carlos Beltran. The lead stretched to 4-0 on a Paul Lo Duca two-run single in the seventh.
The Cardinals had some success against Mets closer Billy Wagner in the ninth. Encarnacion led off the inning with a single followed by a Rolen double that put runners in scoring position again. Wagner retired the next two hitters, but surrendered a two-run double to So Taguchi that cut the lead to 4-2. David Eckstein came to the plate representing the tying run but grounded out to end the game.
Maine’s brilliant effort was a necessity especially going against Chris Carpenter, last year’s NL Cy Young award winner. Carpenter allowed two runs on seven hits in six innings.
Jeff Suppan is scheduled to start for the Cardinals in tonight’s series finale. He won Game 3 tossing eight scoreless innings.
Oliver Perez, who won Game 4, should get the nod for the Mets.