PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (AP) - Brad Emaus is looking more and more like the Mets opening day second baseman.
Emaus went 4 for 4 with a homer, three runs scored and an RBI, and the Mets beat the St. Louis Cardinals 16-3 on Thursday.
Emaus' standout performance came a day after the Mets optioned Justin Turner to Triple-A Buffalo, clearing a better path for Emaus to win the job. Luis Hernandez and Daniel Murphy are also in the mix.
The Rule 5 selection said the performance was not a result of any relaxed feelings that may have resulted from the competition narrowing down.
``I just went out and had a good day,' said Emaus, who boosted his average to.293 for the spring. ``Like I've said, every day is a new day. I felt like my swing is starting to get a little bit better, and I had some good swings out there.'
When asked if Emaus took a step toward nailing down the job, manager Terry Collins paused before saying, ``I thought he played very well.'
``He swung the bat good,' Collins added with a laugh. ``I saw a pretty quick set of hands on that bag. I thought he played very, very well. Pretty impressive.'
Emaus wasn't the only Mets player to have a good day Thursday.
New York scored eight runs in the fourth, including seven straight two-out hits after an error by second baseman Skip Schumaker extended the inning. In addition to Emaus, David Wright, Angel Pagan, Josh Thole and minor leaguer Matt Den Dekker also homered, and the Mets finished with 23 hits on the day.
``It was a great day for everyone,' Emaus said. ``I'll take that all year.'
Cardinals left-hander Jaime Garcia said he didn't feel anything mechanically wrong with his pitches or delivery in that fourth inning, but he wasn't concerned because that's ``just baseball.'
Garcia yielded 10 runs - only three earned - on 14 hits and no walks in four innings, and he struck out one batter.
``I threw a lot of strikes today,' Garcia said. ``It's mechanical when you are walking a lot of people and falling behind every time. But today, I was able to get ahead. I made good pitches early in the game. That inning was a long inning. I got a little tired maybe, I don't know.'
The Mets didn't just hit Garcia hard. Thole and Emaus hit back-to-back homers against Eduardo Sanchez in the fifth inning and Den Dekker hit a three-run shot off Mitchell Boggs in the sixth.
Mets left-hander Chris Capuano allowed three runs, two earned on eight hits in five innings, walking no one and fanning four.
NOTES: Mets pitcher Chris Young, slated to be the team's No. 4 starter, will pitch in a simulated game Friday along with reliever Jason Isringhausen, while the club travels to play the Marlins. Carlos Beltran also will participate in the game.
The Associated Press News Service
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