Beltran's bat, Glavine's arm fuel Mets in NLCS opener

NEW YORK (AP) -- Sharp and deceptive as ever, Tom Glavine took

charge again, putting the pitching-depleted Mets on his 40-year-old

back and giving New York the lead in the National League Championship Series.

Carlos Beltran rocked Shea Stadium with a homer that crashed off

the scoreboard to back another gem by Glavine, and the Mets beat

the St. Louis Cardinals 2-0 in Game 1 on Thursday night.

Game 1 Breakdown

Unsung Hero

Tom Glavine. Carlos Beltran will get the bulk of the kudos for his two-run, difference-making home run, but Beltran's HR wouldn't have mattered without Glavine's performance. The Mets' left-hander continued his brilliance in the postseason, pitching seven innings of four-hit, shutout ball.


Jeff Weaver. It's really hard to assign the "goat" label in this game, but Weaver, who was stellar through five innings, finally broke down in the sixth, allowing the game's only two runs before leaving in favor of reliever Tyler Johnson.

Turning Point

The bottom of the sixth. After a pair of groundouts, Paul Lo Duca reached base on a single. That set the stage for Beltran, who lined a 2-2 pitch from Weaver off the scoreboard in right-center field for a 2-0 Mets lead.

On Deck

Game 2 is Friday back at Shea Stadium. The Cardinals will go with ace Chris Carpenter, originally scheduled to start Game 3. This will be Carpenter's first meeting against the Mets in 2006. Meanwhile, the Mets will go with rookie John Maine, who gave up only one run in 4 1/3 innings in Game 1 of the Division Series. But in his only start against St. Louis this season, he got pounded for seven runs in five innings.

"Tommy was the key," New York manager Willie Randolph said.

"He's quiet, goes about his business and is one of the leaders on

our staff."

Making his 34th postseason start, Glavine shut down Albert Pujols and extended his scoreless streak to 13 innings in this


Beltran, who wore out St. Louis in the NLCS with Houston two

years ago, hit a two-run shot off an otherwise impressive Jeff Weaver in the sixth. That was all the offense New York needed to

win its eighth straight game, dating to the regular season.

"It pains me," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "No way

to suggest that he's a losing pitcher. ... Jeff was outstanding. So

was Glavine. We hit too many balls in the air. I mean, it's tough

to win when you do that."

After rain postponed the opener Wednesday night, the Cardinals

bumped up ace Chris Carpenter, who will pitch on regular rest

Friday night in Game 2. Rookie right-hander John Maine will be on

the mound for the Mets.

Missing injured starters Pedro Martinez and Orlando Hernandez,

the Mets are counting heavily on Glavine as they chase their first

World Series title in 20 years. The cagey left-hander has delivered

in a big way.

He threw six scoreless innings in Game 2 of the first round,

helping the Mets to a three-game sweep of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

And the two-time Cy Young Award winner, who waited four seasons to

reach the playoffs with New York after doing so year after year in

Atlanta, was just as good against St. Louis.

ESPN Radio postgame

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After a Game 1 win, Mets pitcher Tom Glavine said he's having fun this postseason. He said he's ready to pitch in Game 5 if needed, and that was part of the reason he came out after seven innings. Tom Glavine 

Center fielder Carlos Beltran said the team knows Glavine will give them a solid performance every time he takes the mound: "That guy's been amazing." Carlos Beltran 

"I understand the importance of when I pitch now. But at the

same time, I'm trying my best to mentally play games with myself

and dismiss that," Glavine said. "I don't want to go out there

with any added pressure on myself."

Helped by two inning-ending double plays and a sprawling catch

by super sub Endy Chavez, Glavine yielded only four hits and two

walks. He struck out Pujols in the first, walked him in the fourth

and retired him on a liner to shortstop in the sixth.

"The first part I executed real well, which is facing him with

nobody on base," Glavine said. "He's the best hitter in baseball

right now. ... But when he's in the box and you have to face him,

you have to face him like you do every other hitter. You have to be

aggressive and attack him."

Guillermo Mota worked a hitless eighth to avoid facing Pujols

himself, instead passing the reigning NL MVP along to Billy Wagner.

But the Mets' closer got Pujols to line out to first, and Juan Encarnacion followed with a hard groundout.

Wagner then walked Scott Rolen, who is 1-for-14 this postseason,

and retired pinch-hitter Scott Spiezio on a popup to end it for his

third save of the playoffs.

Glavine matched Andy Pettitte for the most postseason starts in

major league history. Glavine also improved to 14-15 in the

postseason, tying Pettitte for the second-most wins behind former

Braves teammate John Smoltz (15).

"He made a lot of hitters tonight look foolish, kept them off

balance," Mets star David Wright said.

Weaver, cast off by the Los Angeles Angels in July, was nearly

as good. He cruised through 5 2/3 innings, blanking the Mets'

menacing lineup on one harmless single.

But Paul Lo Duca bounced a hit through the left side in the

sixth, and Beltran drove a 2-2 fastball an estimated 430 feet off

the giant scoreboard in right-center -- the ball clanging off Jose Valentin's No. 18 in New York's lineup.

"Every time you do something in October it means a lot,"

Beltran said. "Hitting the home run today, of course brings


It also woke up a curiously quiet crowd of 56,311 at Shea, which

was plenty noisy during two home games in the division series, and

left them chanting "Wea-ver! Wea-ver!"

"I'd been feeding him fastballs all day and he finally caught

up to one," Weaver said. "If you would have told me I'd have

allowed one hit through five innings, I would have liked our

chances. But it just didn't go our way."

The right-hander knows all about tough crowds in New York after

an unsuccessful stint with the Yankees from 2002-03, when he was

often booed lustily in the Bronx. Weaver, lifted in the sixth after

98 pitches, is scheduled to come back on only three days' rest in

Game 5 -- as is Glavine, who threw 89 pitches.

"There's no question I feel better about coming back on a small

pitch count like I had tonight as opposed to getting over 100,"

Glavine said.

Elias Says

Carlos Beltran
Carlos Beltran's home run in the Mets' 2-0 victory was his fifth against the Cardinals in postseason play. That broke a tie with Lou Gehrig, Al Simmons, Jeffrey Leonard and Lance Berkman for the second-most postseason homers vs. St. Louis. Only Babe Ruth hit more (seven).

• For more Elias Says, click here

The Cardinals have seen all too much of Beltran in October. He

batted .417 with four homers and five RBI for the Astros in the

2004 NLCS, a series St. Louis won in seven games.

Beltran also hit a game-ending homer against the Cardinals in


"He's a big-game guy. He's shown what he can do in the

postseason," Randolph said. "He has a beautiful swing. He's a

very special individual. You don't see the ball jump off the bat

like that with many hitters."

La Russa has his team in the NLCS for the third straight season

and fifth time in seven years overall -- a run that began with a

loss to the wild-card Mets in 2000. But St. Louis is 1-3 in its

last four NLCS appearances and is still looking for its first World

Series championship since 1982.

The winner of Game 1 in the NLCS has reached the World Series 12

of the last 13 years. The 2005 Cardinals were the exception.

The Mets lost left fielder Cliff Floyd early when he aggravated

his injured Achilles' tendon while running out a foul fly in the

second. After feeling two pops in his foot, he will have an MRI on

Friday. He is day-to-day.

Floyd was replaced by Chavez, a defensive whiz, in the top of

the third. Chavez got a late break on Ronnie Belliard's

fifth-inning looper, but recovered in time to make a diving,

snow-cone grab.

Poor baserunning by Pujols cost the Cardinals in the fourth,

when he was doubled off first base by Beltran on Encarnacion's soft

fly to a center.

"Albert is an outstanding baserunner and I'm not

exaggerating," La Russa said. "That was the exception."Game notes
It was Glavine's 16th LCS start, the most in major league

history. He lowered his career postseason ERA to 3.27. ... Ex-Mets

slugger Darryl Strawberry threw out the first pitch.