Beltran upstages Pujols-Delgado slam fest in Mets win

NEW YORK (AP) -- Carlos Beltran swung, and quickly an exciting night for the New York Mets became an exhilarating one.

Elias Says

In the Mets-Cardinals game, Albert Pujols hit his 37th and 38th home runs, Carlos Beltran hit his 36th and Carlos Delgado hit his 30th and 31st. It's the first time in major league history that a game before Sept. 1 featured as many as five home runs that were at least the 30th of the season for the batter.

Beltran's game-ending home run was the second walkoff homer that Jason Isringhausen has allowed in the last two weeks -- he also gave up one to David Ross on Aug. 9. Prior to that, Izzy had allowed only two game-ending dingers in his career, to David Justice in 2000 and Jose Cruz Jr. in 2001.

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Beltran hit a two-run homer in the ninth inning, putting a rousing ending to a game of grand-slam derby between Albert Pujols and Carlos Delgado and rallying the Mets over the St. Louis Cardinals 8-7 on Tuesday.

"This is a potential playoff atmosphere," Beltran said. "Whoever wins this series is going to make a statement."

Pujols hit a slam and a three-run homer for St. Louis, setting a career-high with seven RBI. Delgado almost matched that for the Mets, crunching a solo shot and a slam to reach 400 homers.

"It doesn't matter. It's not about me," Pujols said.

Said Delgado: "This isn't a man-to-man matchup."

Beltran's one-out drive to right field off Jason Isringhausen (4-7) capped the Mets' comeback from a 7-1 deficit. It also decided

the game between NL division leaders and gave the Mets a five-game winning streak.

On a rollicking night at Shea Stadium, a Mets crowd of 49,661 that included former President Clinton had plenty to cheer about. Fans found out before the game pitcher Tom Glavine will not need surgery on his left shoulder and later learned outfielder Shawn Green was acquired from Arizona.

"It was a nice night," Delgado said.

Beltran set off the biggest ovation, connecting for his 36th homer after Paul Lo Duca singled. Booed at home for most of last year, Beltran took a joyride around the bases, tossing his helmet and jumping on the plate.

"Walk-off is a great feeling," he said.

On a team loaded with All-Stars, Beltran has been a force, driving in 103 runs and playing a stellar center field.

"Beltran is my MVP, that's for sure," Mets manager Willie Randolph said.

Aaron Heilman (3-4) won in relief, giving the Mets their ninth straight home victory.

St. Louis played without two All-Stars. Center fielder Jim Edmonds was out while recovering from last week's dizziness and shortstop David Eckstein remained in St. Louis for treatment for his strained side muscle.

Even minus them, the Cardinals took a big lead. After Mets rookie John Maine retired the first nine batters, St. Louis pounded him.

Aaron Miles opened the fourth with a single, Chris Duncan

doubled and Pujols hit a 430-foot shot that banked off the scoreboard in right-center field, barely missing where "Cardinals" was spelled out in lights.

That drive was Pujols' 30th homer and gave him 101 RBI -- the sixth straight year he's topped the century mark. And the St. Louis star was just warming up.

Maine made a pair of terrible rookie mistakes in the fifth, issuing a pair of two-out walks that loaded the bases for Pujols.

Pujols took advantage, launching a majestic drive into the left-center field bleachers for his fifth career slam and a 7-1 lead.

"He's always wanting to do damage," Beltran said.

Delgado got those runs back in a hurry. After hitting a solo homer in the second inning, he connected again off Jeff Weaver,

this time for his 11th slam.

Delgado's 400th homer moved him past Al Kaline and Andres Galarraga into 42nd place on the career list. The Mets' ninth grand slam of the year also set a team record.

New York closed to 7-6 in the sixth on Jose Reyes' RBI


Pujols got another big chance after Pedro Feliciano walked two batters in seventh. Submarining reliever Chad Bradford got Pujols to ground into an inning-ending double play.

"I think we hit some balls hard," Pujols said. "We didn't take advantage of our opportunities."Game notes
Pujols' previous RBI high was five. ... Mark McGwire was the last St. Louis player with seven RBI in a game, in 2000. ... Reliever Guillermo Mota made his Mets debut, pitching a scoreless inning. The Mets got him Sunday from Cleveland for a player to be named. ... Delgado has 40 multihomer games. Pujols has 15. ... Cardinals left-hander Mark Mulder will come off the DL and start Wednesday night. He's been sidelined since June 21 with an injured left shoulder.