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STL@NYM: Wainwright fans six over seven innings

NEW YORK -- Matt Harvey's quick path from first-round Draft pick three summers ago to the ace of the Mets' pitching staff have many ready to catalog him among baseball's elite pitchers.

On Thursday, Adam Wainwright showcased what it's like to already be there.

Under threatening skies and an ominous forecast, Wainwright and Harvey treated an announced Citi Field crowd of 25,471 to the pitchers' duel that many had anticipated. Two-out RBI hits by Matt Carpenter and Allen Craig were just enough to back Wainwright and send the Cardinals to a 2-1 victory and their 15th series win.

"There's a lot of excitement around what Harvey is doing right now, and rightfully so," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said after the game. "I just hope people don't forget to look at what our guy did today. Pretty impressive."

What Wainwright did was deliver seven scoreless innings to become baseball's first 10-game winner. The Cardinals lost the chance for their 10th shutout of the season in the ninth when closer Edward Mujica served up a one-out solo homer to Marlon Byrd before bouncing back to earn his 19th save in as many chances.

Snapping a string of four straight losses against the Mets, Wainwright scattered four hits (all singles) in the 95-pitch outing. He did so, too, after having to abbreviate his pregame routine. With forecasts calling for day-long storms, Wainwright left the ballpark on Wednesday anticipating there would be no game the next day.

It wasn't until about 80 minutes before the scheduled first pitch that Wainwright learned the game was expected to start on time.

"There's some old games I can think back to where you show up not ready to pitch the game that you heard is going to probably get rained out, and you end up not getting the job done," Wainwright said. "I took close note to that. You have to show up ready to pitch no matter what the forecast is telling you."

Unsure how long the clear skies would remain, Wainwright said he joked with the team's traveling secretary that if he could just have two hours, he'd get the team the win.

"When you're going against Harvey, who has great stuff and works fast, you're going to have a chance for a quick game," Wainwright said. "My job was to go out and get outs and let our offense score some runs."

Wainwright retired the first 11 New York batters and notched his 1,000th career strikeout during that stretch. He reached the round number by freezing All-Star third baseman David Wright on a 75-mph curveball to end the first.

It was the first of six strikeouts for Wainwright, who now has 97 this season. Only three National League pitchers -- one of whom is Harvey -- have more. The Mets never advanced a runner to third against Wainwright, who has now won his last five starts.

"You could foresee this being a one-run, two-run game, just with the way the weather was and with two guys with high-caliber stuff going against each other," Carpenter said. "It was nice knowing that if we could just get one, we had a chance."

Though the Cardinals won't return to Citi Field until next season, Wainwright is likely to highlight the mound here again this year. The All-Star Game will be played at the Mets' home park, and the Cards' ace has positioned himself to be strongly considered to start it.

Harvey wasn't much more vulnerable than Wainwright, as he also pitched seven strong innings. A two-out triple by Carpenter in the third drove home the Cardinals' only run off the 24-year-old right-hander, who had been unbeaten in his first 13 starts this season. He entered with an ERA of 2.10, fifth best in the Majors, though the dearth of run support has held back his win total.

"It's a pretty incredible lineup," Harvey said of facing the Cardinals. "You really have to be locked in one through nine. Wainwright went out there and put up zeros. You know it's going to be a close ballgame, and unfortunately I gave up a run, they didn't and got the win."

The Cardinals forced Mets manager Terry Collins to remove Harvey a little earlier than desired, too, by intentionally walking the eight-hole hitter in the seventh to bring up the pitcher's spot. With that representing New York's best scoring opportunity of the day, Collins replaced Harvey with pinch-hitter Justin Turner.

Wainwright retired Turner to end the inning. The Cardinals then scored a key insurance run off the Mets' bullpen. Craig drove it home with the fourth of four straight singles by the top of the order.

The Cardinals' 43rd win of the season was sealed by the relief work of Trevor Rosenthal and Mujica. Rosenthal, who worked through the toughest part of the Mets' order, has now made 19 straight scoreless appearances, striking out 30 during that stretch.

Mujica's outing wasn't as smooth, but he made it through thanks to a large assist from his second baseman. With the lead down to one and a runner on second, Carpenter made a sliding stop to keep Kirk Nieuwenhuis' grounder from getting past him.

"When the ball is hit, my initial reaction is that I have to keep this ball in the infield with the tying run at second," Carpenter said. "In that situation as infielders, our job is to knock it down and keep it in there."

Carpenter recorded the out, too.

Pinch-hiter Josh Satin then worked an eight-pitch at-bat against Mujica before striking out with the potential tying run at third. And as bad as the forecast had looked, the Cardinals and Mets played the entire two-hour, 43-minute affair without the arrival of any rain.

"Two days ago, they were talking about we were going to need to build an ark," Matheny said. "Fortunately, it worked out."

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