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St. Louis Cardinals center fielder Harrison Bader runs the bases after hitting a home run during the fourth inning of a game against the New York Mets Wednesday, in New York.

NEW YORK — Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado each hit one of St. Louis’ four homers, and the Cardinals flashed some fantastic outfield defense in beating the New York Mets 11-4 on Wednesday night for their fifth straight victory.

Harrison Bader homered, drove in three runs and made a timely grab at the center-field fence to help Jon Lester improve to 9-1 against the Mets. Edmundo Sosa also went deep and Goldschmidt had three hits as the streaking Cardinals completed a three-game sweep by winning their seventh in eight games.

St. Louis, which jumped into playoff position Tuesday night for the first time since May 30, moved 1½ games ahead of the Reds for the second NL wild card thanks to Cincinnati’s 5-4 loss at last-place Pittsburgh. The Cardinals began the day one game ahead of San Diego, which started later in San Francisco.

Pete Alonso and Kevin Pillar homered for the fading Mets, who look finished in the pennant race with 15 games to go. They dropped five games behind St. Louis, with three teams in between.

Tyler O’Neill laced a two-run double in a five-run first inning against rookie Tylor Megill (3-5), who was coming off an outstanding start against the Yankees.

Running on an 0-2 pitch, Sosa scored all the way from first base on Bader’s bloop, two-run single to center.

New York had a couple of chances to get back in it, but Bader and substitute right fielder Lars Nootbaar came through with clutch catches.

The speedy Bader sprinted to the wall near the 408-foot sign and left his feet a bit to snag Javier Báez’s long drive with two on to end the fifth.

Nootbaar, moments after entering on defense in a double switch, robbed Alonso of a three-run homer to keep it 8-4 in the seventh.

Lester (6-6) allowed three runs — two earned — and six hits in six innings. The 37-year-old lefty struck out seven and walked none, boosting his record to 3-1 in nine outings for St. Louis since his July 30 trade from Washington.

Trainer’s room

Cardinals: RHP Jack Flaherty will likely throw about 20-25 pitches Thursday in his first bullpen since straining his right shoulder in late August. St. Louis still hopes the front-line starter (9-2, 3.08 ERA) can offer something in relief at some point this year. “He’s willing to do whatever it takes. He just wants to pitch and contribute,” manager Mike Shildt said. ... RHP Dakota Hudson (Tommy John surgery) will aim to throw around 75 pitches in a rehab start Friday, his first for Triple-A Memphis after four with Double-A Springfield.

Mets: CF Brandon Nimmo is expected back from the injured list Friday night against Philadelphia, two weeks after straining his right hamstring. ... Noah Syndergaard threw about 15-20 pitches to Nimmo and might have another live batting practice session before heading out on a minor league rehab assignment. Syndergaard was a touch below the mid-90s (mph) with his fastball, manager Luis Rojas said, but wasn’t going “full tilt.” The right-hander has been slowed in his recovery from March 2020 Tommy John surgery by a sore elbow and a positive COVID-19 test. He hopes to return in a relief role before the season ends. ... Reserve infielder José Peraza was reinstated from the 10-day injured list. Peraza had been out since July 20 with a fractured middle finger on his right hand. OF Albert Almora Jr. was optioned to Triple-A Syracuse.

Up next

Cardinals: Off on Thursday before opening a pivotal three-game series at home Friday night against San Diego, a close wild-card competitor. RHP Miles Mikolas (0-2, 5.47 ERA) starts against his former team, seeking his first major league victory in two years. St. Louis also will celebrate the 10th anniversary of its 2011 World Series championship this weekend.

Mets: RHP Taijuan Walker (7-9, 4.29 ERA) pitches Friday night at Citi Field against ex-Met Zack Wheeler (13-9, 2.86) and the Phillies.

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