Originally created 10/16/00

Mets take 3-1 lead over Cardinals



NEW YORK -- The New York Mets made Tony La Russa pay double for bringing back Darryl Kile on only three days' rest.

New York pounded the St. Louis ace with a record five doubles in a four-run first inning and moved within one win of the World Series, beating the Cardinals 10-6 Sunday night for a 3-1 lead in the NL championship series.

The Mets will try to wrap up their half of the Subway Series by winning Game 5 Monday night at Shea Stadium. Mike Hampton starts for New York against Pat Hentgen, pitching for the first time in 15 days.

La Russa hopes that works better than bringing Kile back too soon. Kile, who had been 4-8 with a 6.66 ERA in his 13 appearances with three days between starts, allowed seven runs and eight hits in three-plus innings.

That shouldn't be much of a surprise, considering the results of pitchers going on short rest in the past two postseasons. Nine times managers have brought starters back early -- eight times on three days' rest and once on only two -- and the results are disastrous. The pitchers are 0-4 with a 17.51 ERA and the teams have lost seven of the nine games.

But because Bobby J. Jones fared little better with six days between starts, the Cardinals stayed in the game. Jones allowed six runs and six hits in four-plus innings before being replaced by Glendon Rusch, who pitched three scoreless innings of relief for the victory.

St. Louis had a shot against Rusch in the sixth inning, but first baseman Todd Zeile made a big defensive play. With Ray Lankford on first and Mark McGwire on deck, Carlos Hernandez hit a grounder into the hole between first and second. Zeile dove and made the play and beat Hernandez to first to end the inning and preserve the 8-6 New York lead.

The Mets added a pair of unearned runs in the bottom half -- thanks to two errors by third baseman Fernando Tatis -- and Mighty Mac never got a chance to bat as the tying run.

St. Louis came close in the eighth, getting two runners on against John Franco, but Craig Paquette grounded out to end the Cardinals' last threat.

Mike Piazza homered, scored three runs and drove in two for the Mets. Robin Ventura had three RBIs and Zeile and Benny Agbayani drove in two apiece. The Cardinals outhit the Mets 11-9, but seven of New York's hits went for extra bases.

For the fourth straight time this series, the visiting team jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Fernando Vina led off with a double for St. Louis and moved to third on a bunt. Jim Edmonds, who had been 0-for-7 in his career off Jones, hit the first pitch over the wall in right-center, giving the Cardinals the lead just four pitches into the game.

Kile gave it back, and more, in just nine pitches in a record-setting inning for the Mets. Sparkplug Timo Perez led off with a double and scored when Edgardo Alfonzo grounded a double down the first-base line.

Alfonzo could only make it to third when Piazza lined a double over right-fielder J.D. Drew's head. Ventura put the Mets ahead 3-2 on New York's fourth straight double to open the game. Agbayani scored Ventura with a two-out double -- the Mets' record fifth on the inning. No team in LCS play had ever had more than four extra-base hits in an inning.

As the Mets took the field, the scoreboard showed that Seattle drew within 3-2 in the ALCS with a 6-2 win over the Yankees. The fans cheered the news, apparently not looking forward to the city's first Subway Series since 1956.

But they were backing their team enthusiastically as the Mets tried to make the Series for the first time since 1986.

New York wasn't done against Kile, adding three runs in the second on a two-run double by Zeile and an RBI single by Agbayani.

Piazza's second homer of the series -- and fourth of his postseason career -- made it 8-3 in the fourth. Will Clark had hit a solo shot for St. Louis in the top half.

The Cardinals knocked Jones out with three runs in the fifth on an RBI double by pinch-hitter Eric Davis, a sacrifice fly by Edgar Renteria and an RBI single by Edmonds.

Rusch held the Cardinals there, keeping up the trend of New York's left-handers dominating St. Louis. The Cardinals have scored 18 of their 21 runs in this series against right-handed pitchers.

Notes: Alfonzo has hit in 10 consecutive postseason games and Agbayani in eight straight. ... Four teams have had four extra-base hits in an inning during the LCS, the last being Baltimore in 1997 against Cleveland. ... Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan was tossed in the fourth inning by second base ump Steve Rippley. The ejection came after Duncan took Kile out of the game and probably stemmed from the pitching coach's anger at a close 3-2 pitch to Perez being called a ball.