Mets 10, Cardinals 6

Monday, October 16th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) — With Mighty Mac once again reduced to being a spectator, the New York Mets moved within one win of wrapping up their half of a Subway Series.

New York pounded St. Louis ace Darryl Kile with a record five doubles in a four-run first inning and Mark McGwire didn't swing the bat for the third time this series as the Mets beat the Cardinals 10-6 Sunday night for a 3-1 lead in the NL championship series.

``He's the X-factor of X-factors,'' Mets manager Bobby Valentine said of McGwire, who can only pinch hit because of tendinitis in his right knee. ``There were a few times he was standing there lurking in the wings. I'm glad we kept him on the bench.''

The Mets got some help from Cardinals manager Tony La Russa — whose every move backfired — as McGwire waited with the bat in his hands three times in the sixth inning as the tying run came to the plate.

The Mets will try to keep Big Mac on the sideline again in Monday's Game 5 as they attempt to finish off the Cardinals. Only eight teams have ever come back from a 3-1 deficit in a best-of-seven series.

``We're 27 good outs away from being in the World Series,'' said Glendon Rusch, who pitched three scoreless innings for the win.

Along with not using the greatest home run hitter in the game, La Russa's decision to bring Kile back on three days' rest didn't work either. Kile, who had been 4-8 with a 6.66 ERA in his 13 appearances with three days between starts, allowed seven runs and eight hits in three-plus innings.

``He's been so great this year. It was unusual,'' La Russa said.

It shouldn't have been considering Kile's own history and the results of other pitchers going on short rest in the past two postseasons. Nine times managers have brought starters back early — eight times on three days' rest and once on only two — and the results are disastrous. The pitchers are 0-4 with a 17.51 ERA and the teams have lost seven of the nine games.

``That has nothing to do with it,'' Kile said. ``If you make good pitches, it doesn't matter if you're pitching on one days' rest. I didn't make good pitches.''

But because Bobby J. Jones fared little better with six days off since his one-hit shutout against San Francisco, the Cardinals stayed in the game. Jones allowed six runs and six hits in four-plus innings.

St. Louis had a shot against Rusch in the sixth inning, but first baseman Todd Zeile made a big defensive play. Ray Lankford led off with a single, but McGwire just watched as Fernando Tatis and J.D. Drew were retired.

``I felt like we'd get one more guy on base and there wasn't going to be a way to avoid him,'' La Russa said. ``That was probably the only time I realistically thought about giving it a shot.''

McGwire moved into the on-deck circle when Carlos Hernandez came up, but Zeile made a diving stop between first and second to preserve the 8-6 lead.

``It would have made it a lot more exciting if he had not made the play,'' Valentine said.

After the Mets added a pair of unearned runs in the bottom half — thanks to two errors by third baseman Fernando Tatis — McGwire never got a chance to bat, leaving him 0-for-1 with one intentional walk in four games.

``I was gonna wait for the tying run to come to the plate,'' La Russa said. ``If the tying run came up, he was in there.''

St. Louis came close in the eighth, getting two runners on against John Franco, but Craig Paquette grounded out to end the threat.

Edgardo Alfonzo had chided his teammates for their loose play in Game 3. They responded in Game 4.

Mike Piazza homered, scored three runs and drove in two for the Mets. Robin Ventura had three RBIs and Zeile and Benny Agbayani drove in two apiece. The Cardinals outhit the Mets 11-9, but seven of New York's hits went for extra bases.

For the fourth straight time this series, the visiting team jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Fernando Vina led off with a double and moved to third on a bunt. Jim Edmonds then homered, giving the Cardinals the lead four pitches into the game.

Kile gave it back, and more, in just nine pitches in a record-setting inning for the Mets. Sparkplug Timo Perez led off with a double and scored on Alfonzo's double.

Alfonzo could only make it to third when Piazza lined a double over Drew's head. Ventura put the Mets ahead 3-2 on New York's fourth straight double. Agbayani scored Ventura with a two-out double — the Mets' record fifth on the inning. No team in LCS play had ever had more than four extra-base hits in an inning.

``We came out more aggressive,'' said Piazza, who has broken his postseason struggles by going 6-for-13 with five RBIs in the series. ``We were determined to get back into ballgame.''

New York wasn't done against Kile, adding three runs in the second on a two-run double by Zeile and an RBI single by Agbayani.

Piazza's second homer of the series — and fourth of his postseason career — made it 8-3 in the fourth. Will Clark had hit a solo shot for St. Louis in the top half.

The Cardinals knocked Jones out with three runs in the fifth on an RBI double by pinch-hitter Eric Davis, a sacrifice fly by Edgar Renteria and an RBI single by Edmonds.

Notes: Alfonzo has hit in 10 consecutive postseason games and Agbayani in eight straight. ... Four teams have had four extra-base hits in an inning during the LCS, the last being Baltimore in 1997 against Cleveland. ... Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan was ejected in the fourth inning by second base ump Steve Rippley.