NEW YORK (AP) - Kyle Lohse had no answer for Carlos Beltran, his nemesis.
Beltran doubled and walked twice against Lohse, sparking the New York Mets to a 4-2 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday night.
``I was not going to let him be the guy that beats me,' Lohse said. ``I guess I'm going to have to make up a knuckleball or something.'
In his first game after missing three with the flu, Beltran improved to 22 for 39 (.564) against Lohse all-time. His walk in the sixth came just ahead of Daniel Murphy's two-run double.
Despite having allowed Beltran to reach base all three times Lohse faced him to that point, manager Tony La Russa stuck with his struggling starter.
``I gave him a chance to make an out, thought he earned it,' La Russa said. ``Murphy hit the ball hard twice, wasn't going to give him another chance.'
Raul Valdes relieved after Beltran walked and gave up Murphy's double that made it 4-1.
Lohse (8-7) allowed four runs and 10 hits in 5 2-3 innings. He gave up 11 earned runs in his previous two starts.
``I just couldn't get that third out in the sixth,' Lohse said. ``I thought I made some good pitches tonight, just not enough good ones to keep guys on base.'
Angel Pagan also had a two-run double off Lohse, and Dillon Gee (9-3) pitched seven sharp innings in the Mets' second win in five games.
Lohse had an RBI single for the Cardinals' first run and Lance Berkman hit a mammoth homer for St. Louis, which opened a stretch of 20 consecutive games with its third loss in four games after the All-Star break.
``They pitched better, played better, hit better,' La Russa said. ``They had some key outs, we had some big misses.'
The biggest miss came in the eighth inning.
Jose Reyes returned to the Mets after missing more than two weeks with a left hamstring strain. He had two hits and scored a run, but his biggest contribution came in the field.
With one out and runners on first and second Jon Jay hit a sharp grounder between shortstop and third base. Reyes made a diving stop to hold the runner at third, loading the bases for Albert Pujols.
Pujols fouled off two 100 mph pitches from Bobby Parnell then hit a grounder that Reyes fielded right at second base. He stepped on the bag and made a strong throw to nail Pujols at first, falling down on the follow through.
It was Pujols' second double play of the night and his major league-leading 22nd overall.
``I thank Bobby for getting through Albert for me,' said Jason Isringhausen, who came on in the ninth for the Mets' first save opportunity since trading Francisco Rodriguez - who had 23 of New York's 24 saves this season - on the night of the All-Star game.
He pitched a perfect ninth for his first save since 2008, when he was with St. Louis. Isringhausn saved 217 games with the Cardinals before being injured. He wasn't even sure he'd make the Mets roster this spring.
``I knew it was going to happen this way,' Isringhausen said of getting his first save against the Cardinals. ``The baseball gods, that's how they do it.'
Manager Terry Collins said Pagan was unhappy in the leadoff spot while Reyes was out. He looked more comfortable batting fifth, lining a drive over right fielder Berkman's head for two runs in the fifth.
Pagan's double was the Mets' first hit with men in scoring position since Sunday. They were 0 for 5 Monday in a 4-1 loss to Florida.
``It's where I'm better off for the team,' Pagan said of hitting fifth.
Murphy lined out to shortstop Ryan Theriot with the bases loaded ahead of Pagan. But Murphy came through in the sixth, greeting reliever Valdes with a two-out, two-run double to left-center. Cursing into his helmet after failing in the fifth, Murphy pumped his arm over his head while standing on second base in the sixth.
Justin Turner singled and Beltran walked ahead of Murhpy's hit. Beltran scored from first on the sharply hit ball for a 4-1 lead.
Gee gave up his first hit when David Freese's high chopper back to the mound deflected off his glove and fell between shortstop and second base with one out in the fifth. An out later, Lohse, batting eighth, slapped a grounder over second base for his first RBI of the season.
Gee had lost his last two starts, giving up nine earned runs. His changeup baffled the Cardinals, though, and he gave up three hits and two runs.
Berkman hit a drive way over the bullpens in right-center and onto the pedestrian Shea Bridge, eliciting ``wows' from the crowd of 35,448. Beltran, in right field, didn't even move when Berkman crushed the ball.
``He left it up, just a mistake, he didn't make many,' Berkman said.
NOTES: Cardinals SS Theriot was suspended two games for making contact with an umpire Sunday. He appealed, allowing him to play Tuesday. ... Struggling Cardinals OF Colby Rasmus was not in the lineup Tuesday, but La Russa said he's not benching Rasmus. ``If he gets it going, he can be a game-winner himself.'
The Associated Press News Service
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