NEW YORK — Allen Craig hit a tiebreaking, two-run homer in the eighth inning and the St. Louis Cardinals found a bit of missing pop, beating the New York Mets 5-4 Monday and stopping their season-worst losing streak at five.
The Cardinals have never been swept in a four-game series in New York. The World Series champions had been outscored 19-1 by the Mets and no-hit by Johan Santana before salvaging the finale at Citi Field.
Pinch hitter Scott Hairston and Lucas Duda homered for the Mets, who missed a chance to move all alone into the NL East lead.
Craig connected one out after Matt Holliday hit a leadoff single against Jon Rauch (3-5) for a 5-3 lead.
The Mets got closer in the bottom half when Andres Torres hit a long sacrifice fly, but closer Jason Motte retired David Wright on an inning-ending liner to right field with a runner at third base.
Motte finished for his ninth save in 12 chances. Marc Rzepczynski (1-3) wound up with the win despite allowing Hairston's eighth career pinch-hit homer in the seventh, a two-run shot with two outs that made it 3-all.
Cardinals starter Kyle Lohse pitched six sharp innings and allowed only two hits, including Duda's solo homer halfway up the second deck in the fourth.
Dillon Gee limited the Cardinals to Craig's RBI single before a costly wild toss in the seventh.
With runners at the corners, no outs and the score 1-all, Gee gloved Daniel Descalso's comebacker and looked Craig back to third. Gee then tried to start a double play, but bounced his throw into center field and twisted his head in disgust. The go-ahead run scored on the error, and Rafael Furcal's RBI grounder made it 5-3.
The Cardinals took their first lead of the series in the fourth. Holliday led off with a double, moved up on a groundout and scored when Craig bounced a single through the partly pulled-in infield.
St. Louis tried to generate offense any way it could. Yadier Molina moved into the cleanup spot for the second time this season, and Carlos Beltran swung at a 3-0 pitch and grounded out to end the third with a runner on first.
After playing the Mets on Sunday night, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny also let his players arrive late on a rainy morning, with most of them getting to the ballpark about two hours before game time.