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NEW YORK (AP) — The past two games at Citi Field, the St. Louis Cardinals have shown exactly why they own the best record in baseball.
Matt Adams hit a long three-run homer, Jason Heyward also connected and the Cardinals enjoyed their second consecutive offensive outburst, roughing up Bartolo Colon in a 9-0 rout of the New York Mets on Wednesday night.
"These are the fun ones. The ones where every inning it seems like we're going out there and putting up a crooked number," Adams said.
Matt Holliday and Kolten Wong both had three hits to back Carlos Martinez (4-2), who pitched 6 1-3 innings of four-hit ball. Following a 10-2 victory Tuesday night, St. Louis improved the top mark in the majors to 27-13.
"Just goes to show what kind of team we have when we're clicking on all cylinders," Wong said.
Two relievers finished a four-hitter for the Cardinals, who have outhit New York 29-9 over the last two games.
"We had production all the way through the lineup," manager Mike Matheny said.
Pitching four days before his 42nd birthday, Colon (6-3) finally began to show his age.
Trying again to become baseball's first seven-game winner, he was hit hard all game and even walked two batters — one more than he had all season.
And coupled with Washington's victory over the New York Yankees, the Mets' loss dropped them out of first place in the NL East for the first time since April 14.
Colon was charged with nine runs — eight earned — and 11 hits over 4 1-3 innings. He had gone a team-record seven straight starts without issuing a free pass following a walk to Ryan Zimmerman on opening day in Washington.
"I don't think I've ever seen him struggle so much with the command side," Mets manager Terry Collins said.
Colon caught a break in the first inning when Jhonny Peralta's two-out drive to center bounced over the wall for a ground-rule double, scoring one run but stopping another runner at third.
His good fortune ran out in the fourth — moments after the hefty Colon reached third during a rare jaunt around the bases.
Heyward led off with his fourth home run, and Randal Grichuk was safe on a throwing error by third baseman Eric Campbell. After an RBI single by Wong, Colon walked Matt Carpenter on a 3-1 pitch.
It was the first free pass issued by the right-hander in 48 2-3 innings, breaking the previous franchise record of 47 2-3 innings by Bret Saberhagen in 1994.
Holliday followed with a run-scoring single, and Adams made it 7-0 when he launched a shot that banged off a potato chip advertisement above the Mets' bullpen in right-center.
Grichuk had an RBI double and Wong added a run-scoring single in the fifth after a leadoff walk to Heyward.
Despite his second consecutive poor outing, the happy-go-lucky Colon kept his sense of humor.
"Got my behind whipped," he said through a translator. "Now I have to change the approach and throw more balls than strikes."
With the Cardinals clinging to a one-run lead and one out in the third, Grichuk raced in for a diving catch in right-center that pinned Colon at third and kept the bases loaded. At the plate, Grichuk became the first Cardinals player to hit a double and a triple in consecutive games since Red Schoendienst in 1952. That gave Grichuk five extra-base hits and four RBIs in two games since striking out five times Monday night.
THE ONE AND ONLY
Colon fell to 4-1 in seven starts against the Cardinals. That leaves the Arizona Diamondbacks, a team he's faced only once, as the only club yet to hand him a loss.
"He's an aggressive pitcher. He likes to come right after us, so we all kind of collectively, we just said we were going to be aggressive at him, too," Wong said.
Cardinals: In the four-game series finale Thursday afternoon, Jaime Garcia comes off the DL to make his first major league start since June 20. The 28-year-old lefty had a setback in spring training from thoracic outlet surgery, performed in July 2014 to alleviate numbness and tingling in his pitching arm and hand.
Mets: RHP Dillon Gee (groin strain) is scheduled to make another rehab start Thursday for Class A St. Lucie at Dunedin. If he's ready to come off the DL after that, the Mets could have a decision to make about whether Gee goes back into the rotation and who might come out.
Cardinals: Garcia threw 90 pitches over six strong innings Friday in a Double-A rehab start and gets a chance to fill the rotation spot that opened when ace Adam Wainwright sustained a season-ending Achilles injury last month.
"If it doesn't work, next man. Who's going to take it? That's what it is right now," Matheny said.
Mets: RHP Jacob deGrom (4-4) is 9-1 with a 1.32 ERA in his past 11 starts at home, dating to last July. The reigning NL Rookie of the Year was 3 for 3 at the plate in his most recent outing, including two hits in a 10-run inning against Milwaukee.
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