In Tuesday’s opener, Jose Reyes returned to the lineup and went 2-for-5 with a run scored, helping the Mets take a 4-2 win.
Reyes had been on the disabled list since July 3, a day after he suffered a strained left hamstring while running to first base during a 5-2 loss to the Yankees.
In the final year of a contract, the 2011 All-Star raised his average to an MLB-leading .355.
“Anytime you win the game, it’s fun,” Reyes said. “I was able to move around on the field pretty good today.”
Also back in the lineup for New York was right fielder Carlos Beltran, who had missed the past three games with the flu. He had been on fire prior to the illness and he continued that on Tuesday, reaching base in all five plate appearances, going went 3-for-3 with two doubles, two walks and a run scored.
The return of those two helped make a winner out of Dillon Gee (9-3). The rookie snapped a two-start losing streak after throwing seven innings, in which he gave up just two runs on three hits with two walks and two strikeouts.
“The electricity he brings lifts the club,” Mets manager Terry Collins said of Beltran’s return. “He’s the number three guy, he gets back in there after he’d been out for three days with the flu and he walks up there like he hasn’t missed a beat.”
Lance Berkman hit a solo home run and scored twice for the Cardinals, who have dropped three of their last four.
Kyle Lohse’s (8-7) recent struggles continued, as he dropped his third straight start after giving up four runs on 10 hits over 5 2/3 innings. He also drove in the other run for St. Louis.
The loss, combined with Pittsburgh’s 1-0 win over Cincinnati on Tuesday night, moved St. Louis to 1 1/2 games back of the surprising Pirates for first place in the NL Central.
St. Louis also went a 32nd straight game without a stolen base, the longest such streak for a major league team since the 1977 Indians went 35 in a row.
Getting the call for the Mets tonight will be veteran knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, who is 4-8 on the year with a 3.70 ERA. Dickey was charged with the loss on Friday against Philadelphia, as he allowed four runs and six hits in seven innings.
Dickey is 1-1 in four games (two starts) against the Cardinals with a 7.36 ERA.
St. Louis, meanwhile, will counter with righty Kyle McClellan, who has lost his last three starts and last five decisions. McClellan’s latest setback came on July 7 against Arizona, which reached him for four runs (three earned) and six hits in seven innings.
After opening the year with six wins in his first seven decisions, McClellan has fallen to 6-6 and has seen his ERA balloon to 4.24.
The Cards split their six matchups with the Mets last season.