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Mets' Maine man helps NY force Game 7



Published: Thu, October 19, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.



The rookie dominated the Cardinals for 51/3 innings as New York won 4-2.

NEW YORK (AP) -- With the New York Mets on the brink of elimination, John Maine pitched a game to remember.

The rookie dominated the St. Louis Cardinals with the poise of a veteran, Jose Reyes sparked the offense with a leadoff home run and the Mets rock 'n' rolled at boisterous Shea Stadium to beat St. Louis 4-2 on Wednesday night and force the NL championship series to a decisive seventh game.

Reyes had three hits and two stolen bases, Shawn Green boosted the lead with a fourth-inning RBI single and Paul Lo Duca let the loud crowd of 56,334 exhale with a two-run single in the seventh off Braden Looper that made it 4-0.

Now the pennant comes down to Thursday night, when the Cardinals send Jeff Suppan to the mound to save their season. The Mets, carefully piecing together their pitching following injuries to Pedro Martinez and Orlando Hernandez, most likely will start Darren Oliver, Steve Trachsel or Oliver Perez.

Of 11 prior teams to trail 3-2 in the LCS and force a seventh game, eight won pennants. The exceptions were the 1988 Mets, the 1992 Pittsburgh Pirates and 2003 Boston Red Sox.

Strong start

Darting in and out of trouble twice in the first three innings, Maine outpitched reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Chris Carpenter. Maine allowed two hits in the first and none after that, pitching 51/3 shutout innings, striking out five and walking four.

When it was time to come out, he was circled on the mound like a conquering hero: Reyes patted him on the back and David Wright patted him on the shoulder. Maine acknowledged the standing ovation with only a small wave of his left hand as he walked to the dugout.

Chad Bradford, Guillermo Mota, Aaron Heilman and Billy Wagner finished, with Wagner allowing a two-run, two-out double to So Taguchi in the ninth.

In a rematch of Game 2 starters who didn't get decisions, Carpenter was nearly as good, just not enough on this night. He gave up two runs and seven hits in six innings, dropping to 0-1 in his two starts.

Rocking stadium

Shea Stadium was rocking, with the volume on the speakers turned up and the scoreboard flashing quotes from Mets players praising the fans. In the first Game 6 at the ballpark since the famous comeback against Boston that was capped by Mookie Wilson's grounder through Bill Buckner's legs, the spirit of '86 was invoked on several signs.

"Uno, dos, adios," read another sign.

Maine, a 25-year-old right-hander, was obtained in January's dump of Kris Benson to Baltimore. In a tense time, he provided the cool of a veteran -- on days he pitches, he usually sits by himself in the clubhouse before the game doing Sudoku puzzles.

He got in trouble in the first and third innings, but came up with the big outs, perhaps the biggest of his life. St. Louis had runners at second and third with one out in the first, before Maine fanned Jim Edmonds on three pitches and loaded the bases by hitting Juan Encarnacion. Lo Duca saved a run with a backhand stop of a pitch in the dirt on a 1-2 pitch to Scott Rolen, who then flied out.

Pitching out of trouble

David Eckstein walked leading off the third and stole second, but Maine struck out Scott Spiezio and, after intentionally walking Albert Pujols, retired Edmonds on a flyout and struck out Encarnacion.

That left St. Louis 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position. Maine didn't allow any runners past first after that.

Reyes' home run, a no-doubt-about-it drive to right-center, was his first in postseason play -- his first since Sept. 10. It was the first leadoff homer Carpenter allowed.

New York used small ball to double its lead in the fourth. Carlos Beltran singled into left field leading off, advanced on a one-out single by Wright -- just his second hit in 19 at-bats in the LCS. Green then hit an opposite-field liner into left.

Bradford got Rolen to hit into an inning-ending double play in the sixth, and Mota retired pinch-hitter Chris Duncan on an inning-ending double play in the seventh. Then, following singles by pinch-hitter and Reyes in the bottom half, Lo Duca got the big single against Looper.

ST. LOUISNEW YORK

abrhbiabrhbi

Eckstin ss4000JBRyes ss4231

Spiezio lf4010L Duca c4012

Pujols 1b3020Beltran cf4110

Edmnd cf3000CDlgdo 1b4000

JEcrcn rf3110Wright 3b4010

Rolen 3b4110ShGren rf3021

Blliard 2b4010Vlentin 2b4000

YMolna c3000Chavez lf4010

Crpnter p2000Maine p2000

Duncan ph1000Brdford p0000

Looper p0000Mota p0000

TJhnsn p0000Tucker ph1110

Tguchi ph1012Heilmn p0000

BWgnr p0000

Totals32272Totals344104

St. Louis000000002--2

New York10010020x--4

E--Rolen (1). DP--St. Louis 1, New York 2. LOB--St. Louis 8, New York 7. 2B--Rolen (1), Taguchi (1). HR--JBReyes (1). SB--Eckstein (3), JBReyes 2 (2), Tucker (1).

IPHRERBBSO

St. Louis

Carpenter L,0-1672204

Looper2-332200

TJohnson1 1-300000

New York

Maine W,1-05 1-320045

Bradford110000

Mota2-300000

Heilman110001

BWagner132200

HBP--by TJohnson (ShGreen), by Maine (JEncarnacion). Umpires--Home, Gary Darling; First, Tim Welke; Second, Jim Joyce; Third, Jerry Layne; Left, Fieldin Culbreth; Right, Jeff Kellogg. T--2:56. A--56,334.

Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.




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