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Beltran homers twice as Mets shut out defending champs

• Turning point: Jose Reyes and Beltran homered in a span of three at-bats against Josh Hancock in the seventh for a 5-0 cushion. It was the fifth multihomer game for Beltran in the last two years.

• Figure this: Braden Looper's first major league start after 572 relief appearances was a bright spot for St. Louis. Looper, who saved 57 games for the Mets in 2004 and '05, didn't allow a runner in scoring position until the sixth when Beltran hit a two-run homer.

• Elias Says: Only one other defending World Series champion started the next season 0-3 while scoring as few as two runs in its first three games; in 1914, Connie Mack's Philadelphia Athletics.

-- ESPN.com news services

Mets 10, Cardinals 0

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Although it's too late to do anything about the
bitter disappointment of last fall, the New York Mets certainly put
a damper on the St. Louis Cardinals' season-opening celebrations.

John Maine kept the Cardinals' bats quiet with seven innings of
one-hit ball and Carlos Beltran homered twice and drove in four
runs, helping the Mets sweep the World Series champions with a 10-0
victory Wednesday night.

"We can't change history, so we just came out excited about the
first part of the season," manager Willie Randolph said. "It just
happens that the Cardinals were the team, that's all. No extra
incentive."

Jose Reyes also homered and had three RBIs for the Mets, who
were 8-1 to start last season en route to an NL-high 97 wins before
they were eliminated by the Cardinals in the NL Championship Series. Playing for much
lower stakes but making a statement nonetheless, the Mets outscored
the Cardinals 20-2.

The Mets have a six-game winning streak against the Cardinals in
the regular season.

"It's always great when you start the season the way we
started, winning three against the world champions," Beltran said.
"Now we just need to continue to play the game we played here."

The Mets romped in 41-degree temperature at game time, a
precipitous drop from the opener on Sunday night when it was 72
degrees. They started a season 3-0 for the first time since 1994,
when they won three straight at Chicago.

Braden Looper's first major league start after 572 relief
appearances was a bright spot for the Cardinals, who started 0-3
for the first time since 2001. The last time the Cardinals lost
three straight at home to start the season was in 1969, the year
after they lost a seven-game World Series to Mickey Lolich and the
Detroit Tigers.

"I think if you get two runs in three games, we're better than
that, and I don't care how good the pitching is," manager Tony La
Russa said. "No. 1, we are better than that, and No. 2, we have to
be better than that if we expect to have a season in contention.

"I think we'll fix it, sooner rather than later."

The Cardinals were 1-for-15 with runners in scoring position in
the series and the lone hit, a single by Preston Wilson in the
opener, did not produce a run because Beltran's strong throw from
center field caught David Eckstein trying to score from second.

Wilson committed a two-base error when he missed pinch-hitter
Julio Franco's fly to right in the Mets' five-run eighth, the
Cardinals' third outfield miscue in the series.

Maine, who capped his rookie season by beating the Cardinals in
Game 6 of the NLCS, retired the first 12 batters. Scott Rolen
singled softly to left and Jim Edmonds walked to open the fifth
before Maine recovered to retire nine of the last 10.

"It's a good start, but it's behind me," Maine said. "I guess
it was good while it lasted, but it's over with."

Maine struck out six, fanning Chris Duncan and Wilson twice
each. Edmonds drew a second walk with two outs in the seventh.

"It was nice to see Johnny pounding the zone," Randolph said.
"He was real focused, something I've challenged him with."

Looper, who saved 57 games for the Mets in 2004 and '05, didn't
allow a runner in scoring position until the sixth when Beltran hit
a two-run homer just inside the right-field foul pole. Shawn Green
added an RBI single for a 3-0 lead.

Beltran thought Looper tired as the game progressed, but Looper
disagreed. He said the 0-2 fastball to Beltran that he left over
the plate was his only real mistake.

"I gave up some hits, but they were groundballs or what have
you," Looper said. "I felt great the whole game.

"That one pitch, I just wish I could have back."

Reyes and Beltran homered in a span of three at-bats against
Josh Hancock in the seventh for a 5-0 cushion. It was the 18th
multihomer game for Beltran, and fifth in the last two years.

Game notes
Looper's run of consecutive relief appearances before
starting is the third-longest in major league history behind
Todd Jones (632) and Chuck McElroy (603). ... Beltran has three homers
and nine RBIs in 22 at-bats at new Busch Stadium, which opened last
year. ... Three games into the season, Scott Spiezio and backup
catcher Gary Bennett are the Cardinals' only position players
without a start.