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Cards hold off Mets 7-6 in 11 to move into playoff position

Cards hold off Mets 7-6 in 11 to move into playoff position
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NEW YORK (AP) — Edmundo Sosa hit the go-ahead single in a three-run 11th inning and the hard-charging St. Louis Cardinals climbed all the way back into playoff position Tuesday night with a wild 7-6 victory over the New York Mets.

New York scored twice in the bottom of the 11th and had two runners on when Kwang Hyun Kim retired pinch-hitter Albert Almora Jr. on a grounder for his second career save, ending a back-and-forth game that took 4 hours, 34 minutes.

Pinch-hitter Andrew Knizner added a two-run single in the top half to give the Cardinals needed breathing room as they shook off Javier Báez’s tying homer in the ninth.

Tyler O’Neill homered and drove in three runs for the Cardinals. They’ve won four straight and six of seven to vault into the second NL wild-card slot by a half-game over Cincinnati, which lost 6-5 in Pittsburgh.

It’s the first time the Cardinals have held a postseason spot since they clung to a slim lead in the NL Central on May 30. They began Tuesday night tied in the wild-card standings with San Diego, which started later in San Francisco.

Demoted closer Alex Reyes (8-8) got Francisco Lindor to ground into an inning-ending double play with runners at the corners in the 10th, firing up the Cardinals.

Then they got three singles in the 11th off rookie Jake Reed (0-1), just activated from the injured list.

O’Neill put St. Louis ahead 4-3 with a two-run homer in the eighth against Jeurys Familia, who was booed off the mound.

Báez tied it with a leadoff drive in the ninth, sending the first pitch from Giovanny Gallegos to left field beyond a leaping O’Neill and over the orange home run line on the blue wall.

It was the first time Báez tied a big league game with a homer in the ninth inning or later. He came out of the dugout for a curtain call as the Citi Field crowd of 21,825 chanted his name — just weeks ago, Báez was scorned by Mets rooters and the front office for a thumbs-down gesture that was a dig at booing fans.

The free-swinging Báez also walked three times and had a bunt single in the first that gave New York a 2-0 lead.

O’Neill had an RBI single and scored in the fourth as the Cardinals erased a two-run deficit against starter Marcus Stroman.

Michael Conforto drove in two runs for the Mets, who have dropped the first two games of this pivotal series, damaging their dwindling chances in a crowded NL wild-card race.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mets: Second-string catcher Tomás Nido (sprained left thumb) and Reed (right forearm inflammation) were reinstated from the 10-day injured list. Nido batted eighth and went 0 for 3. Reserve catcher Patrick Mazeika and reliever Yennsy Díaz were optioned to Triple-A Syracuse. ... There’s a chance OF Brandon Nimmo (strained right hamstring) could return this weekend against Philadelphia, manager Luis Rojas said. ... RHP Noah Syndergaard is expected to face hitters in the next few days. Syndergaard has been slowed in his recovery from March 2020 Tommy John surgery by a sore elbow and a positive COVID-19 test.

HONORS

New York outfielder Kevin Pillar received the team’s Heart and Hustle Award, voted on by former players, in a pregame presentation on the field. ... The Mets announced they will name the Spanish radio booth at Citi Field in honor of 83-year-old broadcaster Juan Alicea on Wednesday. Alicea joined the organization in April 1969 and also worked as a scout and in community relations. He’s been broadcasting since 1982, calling more than 4,000 Mets games. “Juan Alicea was an innovator and pioneer in the Spanish broadcasting field,” team president Sandy Alderson said in a statement.

BLACK AND BLUE

With a welt near his ear and a shiner under one eye, umpire Junior Valentine worked the plate right on schedule. Valentine remained in the game Monday night at first base after getting drilled on the right side of his face by a wild throw from Sosa at shortstop that drew blood in the second inning.

UP NEXT

Cardinals: Jon Lester (5-6, 4.75 ERA) pitches Wednesday night in the series finale. The 37-year-old lefty has won six straight decisions versus the Mets and is 8-1 with a 3.18 ERA in 11 career regular-season starts against them. He is 2-1 with a 4.30 ERA in eight outings for St. Louis since his July 30 trade from Washington. Last time out, Lester allowed two runs and three hits over seven innings in a no-decision against Cincinnati.

Mets: Rookie RHP Tylor Megill (3-4, 4.06) struck out 10 over seven innings, both career bests, in a 10-3 win last Friday against the Yankees.
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