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Mulder allows nine runs in return; Mets win sixth straight

NEW YORK (AP) -- Steve Trachsel wasn't happy. And he was the
winning pitcher.

After the New York Mets battered Mark Mulder for nine runs in
his first major league game since June, Trachsel and his bullpen
nearly gave back an eight-run lead Wednesday night. Still, the Mets
hung on for a nervous 10-8 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals
that stretched their winning streak to six.

"More down than up, definitely," said Trachsel, who gave up
three homers. "The up part was my pitches, especially my
fastball."

Jose Reyes hit a three-run homer, a drive over the left-field
bleachers, and Chris Woodward had a three-run double as the Mets
built a 10-2 lead.

But Jose Vizcaino, signed by St. Louis earlier in the day, hit a
two-run homer in the fifth, and Scott Rolen and Preston Wilson hit
consecutive shots in the sixth. Then in the eighth, Wilson hit an
RBI double off Chad Bradford and scored on Ronnie Belliard's
single.

"A laugher is not always a laugher," Mets manager Willie
Randolph said. "It seemed like a laugher, but it changed real
quick. At least we're not crying, though."

It was almost a mirror image of Tuesday, when the Mets fell
behind 7-1, then rallied for an 8-7 win capped by Carlos Beltran's
two-run, ninth-inning homer.

Trachsel (13-5) allowed six runs, six hits and three walks in
five-plus innings but still managed to win his fourth straight
decision and improve to 11-1 since May 17. He walked Mulder in the
third on four pitches, then loaded the bases when he walked Chris Duncan ahead of Albert Pujols, who hit a two-run single.

"We gave him a nice little lead and he made it interesting for
us," Randolph said.

Trachsel was annoyed that a Beatles tribute band, 1964 The
Tribute, repeatedly played when he was ready to throw his first
pitch of an inning.

"Somebody needs to tell them when the batter's in the box,
you're not supposed to play," he said

Billy Wagner pitched the ninth for his 32nd save in 37 chances,
giving up a two-out single to Pujols before retiring Rolen on a
comebacker. New York, which didn't have a hit after the fourth,
extended its home winning streak to 10, and the NL East leaders
improved to a season-high 29 games over .500 at an NL-best 77-48.

"You want to set the tone at home," Wagner said.

St. Louis dropped to 8-13 in August but maintained a one-game
lead in the NL Central over second-place Cincinnati.

"We made a hellacious comeback," Cardinals manager Tony La
Russa said.

Mulder (6-6) made his first appearance since June 20, when he
was chased after 2 1/3 innings by the Chicago White Sox. He allowed
nine runs in that one, and he gave up nine runs in this one, too,
his ERA ballooning to 6.77. Mulder, coming back from a strained
left shoulder, lasted just three-plus innings, giving up nine hits
and four walks.

"It wasn't the outcome I wanted, but the arm felt good," he
said.

Every Mets starter had a hit by the fourth inning other than
Trachsel and Beltran, who had walked twice by then. Reyes, in an
0-for-12 slide coming in, batted in each of the first four innings
and had hits in his first three trips. His 15 homers are double his
previous high: seven last year.

New York took a 4-0 lead in the first on Carlos Delgado's RBI
double and, following an intentional walk to David Wright, a
bases-loaded double by Woodward, who had been 0-for-10. After
Pujols' single cut the lead in half, Reyes' homer boosted the
margin to 7-2 in the bottom half.

Beltran's walk and Delgado's double finished Mulder in the
fourth. Wright hit Josh Hancock's third pitch for a two-run double,
then scored on a one-out single by Lastings Milledge.

Vizcaino originally wasn't in the starting lineup, but La Russa
changed his mind and inserted him into the leadoff spot in place of
shortstop Aaron Miles.

"I was ready for it," Vizcaino said.

Game notes
Regular Cardinals SS David Eckstein, who strained a muscle
in his side Friday, was placed on the 15-day DL, retroactive to
Saturday. ... Reyes also stole a pair of bases, raising his major
league-leading total to 52. ... Jim Edmonds pinch hit and walked in
the seventh for the Cardinals. He hasn't started since Aug. 15
because of dizziness caused by post-concussion syndrome. ...
Ex-Mets closer Braden Looper was booed when he entered in the
eighth.