ST. LOUIS • It took Ty Wigginton stealing an extra 90 feet from the New York Mets and Matt Holliday putting a ball where even Rick Ankiel couldn't reach for the Cardinals to turn a taut game into another in a recent run of improvised wins.
Wigginton wheeled around third base on an infield single and took home when no one was covering it to break a 3-3 tie in the seventh inning.
Matt Holliday followed three batters later with a two-run homer in the seats beyond the center-field wall for his sixth homer of the season. With his mom, Kathy, in attendance to help promote colon cancer awareness and prevention, Holliday punctuated the decisive rally for the Cardinals' 6-3 victory against the Mets on Monday at Busch Stadium.
Wigginton reached base on a double when pinch-hitting for starter Lance Lynn. The rally came soon enough for Lynn to get the win and improve to 6-1 this season.
Edward Mujica converted the ninth for his 10th save in 10 chances.
Holliday went two-for-four in the game and scored twice. He had a chance to break the game open in the second inning and grounded into a double play. He didn't miss the chance in the seventh against reliever Scott Atchison.
Ankiel, in his first game with the Mets, struck out twice and walked once.
The game's slow start (see below) picked up pace and finished in 2 hours, 54 minutes.
Wigginton's heady run breaks tie in seventh inning
It wasn't exactly how the Cardinals imagined Ty Wigginton contributing a jolt of offense off the bench for them this season, but the results were good enough.
With one out in the bottom of the seventh inning, Wigginton lofted a ball to shallow center field. Using a borrow glove from a pitcher, Rick Ankiel drove to make the catch, but the ball clanged off his glove and skittered away to allow Wigginton to reach second on a double.
The next batter, Matt Carpenter, scalded a pitch of Scott Rice's shin that ricocheted into foul territory about 15 or so feet from home plate. Carpenter was safe at first easy as pitcher Rice and catcher John Buck scampered after that ball. That left home plate uncovered.
Wigginton never slowed around third.
He was able to take home before Rice covered the plate, and that run snapped a 3-3 tie.
Lynn finds traction, carries tie game into seventh
Although a couple plays behind him in the field led directly to the runs, Cardinals starter Lance Lynn didn't help himself with four walks in the first 10 batters he faced tonight at Busch.
He's settled since and found traction as well as pace.
A sluggish start to the game has eased into a brisk rhythm as Lynn has held the Cardinals' 3-3 tie through seven innings. Lynn retired 13 batters in a row between a walk in the third -- his fifth walk of the night -- and a two-out single by Daniel Murphy ended the streak in the seventh inning.
Lynn retired David Wright on a ground ball to end the inning and potentially end his evening. He would depart with a quality start on the books if he does not face another batter.
Misplays, walks, and goofs, oh my! Ugly game afoot
It has taken a full hour to play two innings at Busch.
It's only felt much longer.
The Cardinals and Mets have slogged to a 3-3 tie through two innings, and they've gotten there by walks, mishaps in the field, and mistakes on the base paths. Both teams have loaded the bases and failed to produce a run in those at-bats. In the first inning for the Mets, Lance Lynn walked two batters to load the bases. The Mets didn't score a run.
In the second inning, the Cardinals tied the game on Matt Carpenter's RBI single and then were able to load the bases with one out.
Matt Holliday chopped into an inning-ending double play.
The Mets scored three runs in the top of the second inning partially because shortstop Daniel Descalso did not come up with a play in front of second base. David Wright was given a base hit by the official scorerand the go-ahead run scored on the play. Descalso did have to range to in front of second base to get a play on the ball, but he didn't get enough of his glove on it to make the play or hold the runner to third base.
Daniel Murphy got the Mets on the board with a two-run double that too advantage of two more walks offered by Lynn.
Murphy's double could have been a line out. Carlos Beltran appeared to have a bead on it and then at the last second jabbed his glove out as if he couldn't see the ball in the setting sun. The ball zipped by his blind reach and went to the wall for the double. As in Descalso's case, the play was not ruled an error.
Through two-plus innings, Lynn has thrown 60 pitches.
He's collected six outs.
The Cardinals jumped Mets starter Jeremy Hefner for two runs in the first inning. Allen Craig's double that bounced into the stands produced one of the runs. Holliday scored on Jon Jay's sacrifice fly to left field for the second run and a 2-0 lead. Craig tried to tag up and advance for third base on the fly ball but was easily apprehended between the two to end the inning seconds after Holliday crossed home plate.
Carp continues steady advance toward return
Cardinals starter Chris Carpenter completed his second intensive bullpen in four days with all of his peers watching.
Even newcomer John Gast was dragged out for the event.
As Cardinals starters have done for years -- at least as long as Carpenter has been a prominent member of the rotation -- all of the starters paraded out of the clubhouse, through the dugout, and out to see the bullpen throw of one of the group. This time it was Carpenter, and this time they were not alone in their curiosity.
Carpenter continues to make the unexpected happen as he pushes to make a return to the field about three months after facing the word retirement, without exactly saying it.
Carpenter has mimicked the throwing program of early spring training so far. On Monday he did an up-down That means he pitched 28 throws off the mound (up), too a break (down), and then threw 28 more pitches. The whole exercise is meant to simulate an innings workload. After the throws, Carpenter told Rick Hummel of the Post-Dispatch that he felt good and that he continues to make progress.
Carpenter said he expects to go out on a rehab assignment if and when he is cleared to face hitters and ready to start building arm strength and stamina and not just optimism.
Kozma sits, Descalso starts at shortstop
After a lost weekend at the plate, Cardinals shortstop Pete Kozma will be on the bench for the opener of a four-game series against the New York Mets at Busch Stadium tonight (6:05 p.m., FSM and ESPN).
Kozma was 1 for 10 against the Rockies — including a three-strikeout game Saturday — and saw his average dip to .248.
Daniel Descalso, who played sparingly in the past 10 days, contributed a pinch double Sunday and replaced Kozma in tonight's lineup. The hit was only the third of the month for Descalso, who is batting .179 overall.
The Mets signed ex-Cardinal Rick Ankiel today and immediately inserted him in their lineup. He'll play center field and bat seventh tonight.
Ankiel was designated for assignment by the Houston Astros last week and cleared waivers on Sunday. He hit .194 with five homers and 11 RBIs for the Astros, who had signed him to a $750,000, one-year deal.
1. Carpenter 2B
2. Beltran RF
3. Holliday LF
4. Craig 1B
5. Molina C
6. Jay CF
7. Freese 3B
8. Descalso SS
9. Lynn P
1. Baxter RF
2. Murphy 2B
3. Wright 3B
4. Davis 1B
5. Duda LF
6. Buck C
7. Ankiel CF
8. Tejada SS
9. Hefner P