NEW YORK (AP) — Jose Reyes once was one of the fastest players in baseball. Now in his 15th season, he may have lost a step or two.
He was still speedy enough Thursday.
Cardinals pitcher Trevor Rosenthal was late covering first base on a grounder by Reyes that turned into a game-winning single with two outs in the ninth inning, lifting the New York Mets over St. Louis 3-2.
A leadoff walk and T.J. Rivera’s single put runners on the corners with two outs. Reyes then hit a grounder up the first base line, and Matt Carpenter fielded it cleanly well behind the bag.
Rosenthal (2-4) was slow to leave the mound, and Reyes easily beat him to the base with a headfirst dive.
“I saw the first baseman playing way back and I said in my mind if you hit something there, you know, hustle to first base,” Reyes said. “When I saw the pitcher, he was standing on the mound for like two seconds and I said, man, it’s going to be tough for him to beat me to first base.”
Carpenter never even made a throw. Rosenthal hurdled Reyes as they crossed paths.
“I knew he was playing behind the bag. I got caught looking,” Rosenthal said. “It’s a fundamental play, a PFP. If we expect guys to play defense behind us, we’ve got to do our part, too.”
Apparently, all the pitchers’ fielding practice in spring training didn’t pay off.
“You got to get over. I turned and looked to throw and he’s nowhere close,” Carpenter said.
Reyes’ fourth career walkoff RBI gave the Mets a split of the four-game series.
“If the pitcher gets off the mound right away I don’t think he makes it,” Mets manager Terry Collins said. “But when you delay like that and you’ve got a guy that runs like Jose runs, who runs hard all the time, that’s going to be a tough play.”
Addison Reed (1-2) pitched a perfect ninth.
Tommy Pham drove reliever Erik Goeddel’s 3-1 changeup into the lower deck in left field to give the Cardinals a 2-1 advantage in the eighth. It was Pham’s 13th home run of the season and third against the Mets.
Pinch-hitter Wilmer Flores homered in the bottom half off Brett Cecil to tie it.
On an oppressively hot afternoon, both starting pitchers did their part to keep the bats cool.
A couple of hours before first pitch, Seth Lugo sat in front of his locker strumming a guitar adorned with the Mets logo, a relaxed look on his face.
The right-hander took that vibe to the mound, keeping the Cardinals off balance with a dizzying curveball and hurling 6 2/3 innings of one-run ball behind a career-high 103 pitches.
Lugo did not allow a hit until two outs in the fifth, when Greg Garcia lined a double into the right field corner.
Lance Lynn allowed one run on three hits in six innings.
Lucas Duda homered into the Cardinals’ bullpen to lead off the second, giving the Mets a 1-0 lead and snapping Lynn’s scoreless streak at a career-high 14 1/3 innings.
It was Duda’s 17th of the season and the 125th of his career, moving him ahead of Todd Hundley for sole possession of seventh place on the franchise’s all-time home run list.
After Carpenter worked a one-out walk in the sixth, Pham hit an RBI double.
The Mets activated reliever Josh Smoker from the disabled list. The hard-throwing lefty had been out more than a month with a strained shoulder. He is 1-2 with a 7.45 ERA in 22 games. RHP Neil Ramirez was designated for assignment. He was 0-1 with a 7.18 ERA in 29 games combined with San Francisco and New York.
PUTTING ON THE SHIFT
Asdrubal Cabrera, who began the season as the Mets’ shortstop but moved over to 2B about a month ago to fill in for the injured Neil Walker, will begin taking grounders at 3B. Cabrera is expected to see action there when Walker returns, Collins said.
Walker (partial tear of left hamstring) is set to begin a rehab assignment on Friday with Triple-A Las Vegas and could be activated on Monday in San Diego. He will also take ground balls at third as well as at first base.
“We’ve got to start to use a little bit of the versatility that those guys bring to give us a chance each and every day, perhaps adjust the lineup by moving those guys around a little bit,” Collins said.
Cabrera, a two-time All-Star, has played third only once in the majors. Collins believes the shift will also help his marketability.
Cardinals: OF Randal Grichuk (lower back strain) was 1 for 4 with a three-run homer for Double-A Springfield on Wednesday night. Manager Mike Matheny said the Cards would make sure Grichuk was feeling good after the rehab game and decide where he goes from there.
Cardinals: St. Louis will open a three-game set at Wrigley Field on Friday afternoon against the Chicago Cubs. RHP Carlos Martinez (6-8, 3.36 ERA) faces RHP Jake Arrieta (9-7, 4.17 ERA) in the series opener. The Cardinals have lost Martinez’s last five outings, despite three of them being quality starts.
Mets: Oakland visits Citi Field this weekend for the first time since June 2014. LHP Steven Matz (2-3, 4.58 ERA) starts for the Mets, looking to avoid losing his third straight after being charged with seven runs while only retiring three Rockies batters on Sunday. The Athletics counter with rookie RHP Paul Blackburn (1-0, 1.83 ERA), who has lasted at least six innings in all three starts since making his debut earlier this month.
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