Playoff Series: Game 5 of 7

St. Louis leads 4-3 (as of 10/17)

Game 1: Wednesday, October 11
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NY Mets
Game 1: Thursday, October 12
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Game 2: Friday, October 13
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Game 3: Saturday, October 14
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Game 4: Sunday, October 15
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Game 5: Monday, October 16
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St. Louis
Game 5: Tuesday, October 17
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Game 6: Wednesday, October 18
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Game 7: Thursday, October 19
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    8:19 PM ET, October 17, 2006

    Busch Stadium, St. Louis, Missouri 

    123456789 R H E
    NYM 000200000 2 8 0
    STL 00021100 - 4 10 0

    W: J. Weaver (1-1)

    L: T. Glavine (1-1)

    S: A. Wainwright (1)

    Leave it to Weaver: Cardinals on brink of World Series

    ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Albert Pujols actually had a few nice things to say about Tom Glavine this time.

    Game 5 Breakdown
    Unsung Hero
    David Eckstein. He provided a spark for St. Louis. Eckstein led off the fifth inning with a single and came around to score the go-ahead run on a Preston Wilson double. The Cardinals shortstop finished 2-for-5 and scooped up everything hit his way in the field.

    Tom Glavine. The Mets starter failed to deliver another gem. He lasted only four innings and allowed three runs on seven hits to suffer his first loss this October.

    Turning Point
    The bottom of the fourth. After the Mets took a 2-0 lead in the top half of the inning, Albert Pujols hit a one-out solo home run to put the Cardinals on the board. They tacked on another run to even the score and secured the lead for good in the fifth frame.

    Law's Take
    "The more you see Adam Wainwright pitch, the more you have to like him -- he has two above-average pitches, good command, and obviously no fear on the mound." More from Keith Law Insider

    On Deck
    Game 6 is Wednesday in New York. It's do-or-die time for the Mets. Rookie John Maine, who has allowed five runs (four earned) in 8 1/3 innings this postseason, gets the call. The Cardinals will counter with ace Chris Carpenter as they try to close out the series. Carpenter is 2-0 with a 3.93 ERA in three October starts.

    And why not? A big swing can put any slugger in a better mood, especially when his team is one win from the World Series.

    Pujols' rally-starting homer and another playoff gem by a rejuvenated Jeff Weaver sent the St. Louis Cardinals to a 4-2 victory over the New York Mets on Tuesday night -- and a 3-2 lead in the NL Championship Series.

    Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter can close it out Wednesday night in Game 6 at Shea Stadium, which would give St. Louis its second pennant in three years and a date with the Detroit Tigers in the World Series.

    After saying Glavine "wasn't good at all" in the opener even though he pitched seven shutout innings, Pujols helped St. Louis finally touch up the soft-tossing lefty with a home run in the fourth.

    "He doesn't give in too much," Pujols said. "I'm just glad it went out of the park."

    The Cardinals also got timely hits from Preston Wilson and Ronnie Belliard, and an insurance homer by pinch-hitter Chris Duncan. With the red-clad crowd of 46,496 twirling white towels, St. Louis' young bullpen held on in the late innings after getting roughed up during New York's 12-5 victory in Game 4.

    Now, the Mets must count on rookie right-hander John Maine on Wednesday as they try to force a Game 7 at home.

    "We've got to come out swinging," David Wright said. "We're backed into a corner. We're going to go out there and play relaxed, play loose tomorrow. Try to come out swinging and break their hearts."

    The second rainout of the series Monday night gave Glavine and Weaver a chance to pitch on regular rest instead of only a three-day break. And for the second time in the series, the clubs will travel without a day off.

    Elias Says
    Chris Duncan
    Just how rare was Chris Duncan's pinch-hit homerun? In the 1,164 postseason games played since the American League and National League champions first met in 1903, there have been only two other occasions on which a left-handed batter pinch-hit a home run off a left-handed pitcher. Johnny Mize of the Yankees hit one off the Brooklyn Dodgers' Preacher Roe in the 1952 World Series, and Arizona's Erubiel Durazo hit one off Glavine, then with the Braves, in the 2001 NLCS.

    • For more Elias Says, click here

    Making his 35th postseason start, the most in major league history, Glavine got only 12 outs.

    "They hit my bad pitches. I made a few mistakes tonight and didn't get away with them," he said. "I didn't feel like they made all that many adjustments. I made a mistake to Albert, he hit it. I made a mistake on Preston and he hit it for a double. All the other ones were kind of bloopers and groundballs that went through holes."

    Weaver, on the other hand, earned his second impressive playoff victory.

    "I think one advantage of playing a team in a long series like this is the opportunity to pitch twice. You get a pretty good read off of their approach last time," Weaver said. "So I knew what they had hit before. And more than anything, just try to get ahead of them."

    Pujols' homer put St. Louis on the scoreboard and snapped Glavine's 22-inning scoreless streak that dated to his final regular-season start at Washington.

    "I think we made him work," Pujols said. "We just went out there and performed. We hit the ball the other way and he obviously left a couple of balls up. We took advantage."

    The 40-year-old Glavine threw four-hit ball in Game 1, beating Weaver 2-0 on Carlos Beltran's two-run homer.

    But Weaver got the best of this matchup. Cast off by the Los Angeles Angels this summer to make roster room for little brother Jered, the St. Louis right-hander kept Beltran and Carlos Delgado in check, yielding only two runs and six hits in six strong innings.

    "I don't even remember the first half of the season," Weaver said. "Just continued to believe in myself that eventually things would turn around."

    The Mets put runners at second and third with one out in the eighth, but Randy Flores retired Shawn Green on a shallow fly and rookie Adam Wainwright struck out Jose Valentin looking to preserve a two-run lead. Wainwright struck out Jose Reyes to end the game for his second save of the postseason.

    "He's got so much composure in the toughest situations, so we've gotten a tremendous lift from those guys," St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said.

    In this postseason, Cardinals relievers have held opponents to 0-for-31 with two outs and runners in scoring position.

    "We didn't have too many opportunities," Mets manager Willie Randolph said. "They did pitch well. The bullpen did a great job."

    Weaver is 2-1 with a 2.16 ERA in three playoff starts. He tossed five innings of two-hit ball to beat San Diego 2-0 in Game 2 of the first round.

    "The biggest key to our win was the way he pitched," La Russa said. "The more you think about what he did, the more credit he deserves.

    "By him being able to finish the sixth it really set up the last three innings for our bullpen."

    Weaver walked Delgado in the fourth, and Green's one-out double kicked up chalk on the right-field line. Valentin hit the next pitch just over a leaping Pujols at first base for a two-run double that put New York ahead.

    But while the Mets have scored in 10 innings during the series, seven times St. Louis has responded with at least one run in its next at-bat.

    Sure enough, Glavine couldn't hold the lead. Pujols pulled a 2-2 pitch barely over the left-field fence in the fourth, his first home run since Game 1 against the Padres and his 12th overall in the postseason.

    "Albert just got enough of it, and you get something going," La Russa said. "We were sitting on zero and that got us going and really perked us up."

    With two outs, Scott Rolen walked, Jim Edmonds singled and Belliard bounced a tying single through the right side as Delgado broke for first base instead of toward the ball.

    Glavine retired Weaver with the bases loaded to end the inning, but the Cardinals chased him in the fifth and took a 3-2 lead.

    Glavine threw only 40 of his 80 pitches for strikes, allowing three runs and seven hits in four-plus innings and failing to tie former Atlanta teammate John Smoltz for the most wins in postseason history at 15.

    "He had the one tough inning obviously in the fourth, but outside of that I thought he pitched pretty well," Randolph said.

    Left-hander Pedro Feliciano escaped a bases-loaded jam in the fifth, keeping the score 3-2. But La Russa sent the left-handed hitting Duncan up for Weaver in the sixth against Feliciano, and Duncan drove a 3-2 delivery down the right-field line to make it 4-2.

    "Once I got him to 3-2, I knew in a close ballgame like that he couldn't walk me," said Duncan, the son of Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan. "He happened to leave a breaking ball up."

    Game notes

    Eckstein appeared to hurt himself on a diving stop in the first. He was checked by La Russa and a trainer, but stayed in the game. ... Ex-Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog, who led the team to its last World Series title in 1982, threw out the first pitch.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press