The New York Mets are playing like they're ready to take complete control of the NL East.
The first-place Mets try for a fourth consecutive victory as they continue their home series against the struggling St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday night.One day after regaining sole possession of the top spot in the division for the first time since April, New York (56-47) extended its East lead to two games over Florida and Philadelphia with a 7-2 victory over St. Louis on Friday.Endy Chavez had four hits while Carlos Delgado homered for the second time in four games for the Mets, who have won 14 of their last 17 and improved to 3-1 on their six-game homestand."Now, we're starting to play consistent baseball," New York shortstop Jose Reyes said. "That's what we didn't do in the first half."Delgado has eight RBIs in his last five games, is batting .409 (9-for-22) in his last six and is 6-for-16 with two home runs and six RBIs in five games versus St. Louis this season."I never really doubted myself, that I couldn't hit anymore," said Delgado, who was batting .228 entering July, during which he's hitting .390.As New York tries to maintain its run of success, 32-year-old Brandon Knight makes his first major league start. Knight replaces Pedro Martinez, who returned to his native Dominican Republic after the death of his father.Knight, who hasn't pitched in the majors since 2002 -- his second year with the New York Yankees -- went 5-1 with a 1.60 ERA for Triple-A New Orleans this season."If he performs well and we like what we see, he might be a guy that we consider keeping in some form or fashion," said manager Jerry Manuel of Knight, who will represent Team USA in next month's Olympic Games in Beijing.The right-hander faces a St. Louis (57-48) team that looks to avoid extending its season-high losing streak to six games.Ryan Ludwick and Troy Glaus each drove in a run Friday while Albert Pujols went hitless for a third straight game for the Cardinals, who have been outscored 24-11 during their skid."There's nothing wrong with the way we competed," manager Tony La Russa said.While Ludwick is batting .357 (15-for-42) with five homers and 11 RBIs in his last 11 games, Pujols is 2-for-19 in his last five contests.The Cardinals turn to Joel Pineiro (3-4, 4.52 ERA) to help them end their skid. He allowed three runs and 10 hits in six innings of a 6-3 loss to Milwaukee on Monday while failing to earn a decision in his second straight start.The right-hander is 1-0 with a 2.77 ERA in two career starts versus the Mets.