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Cardinals finish off sweep of Mets in New York thanks to Lester, offense and clutch catch from Nootbaar

Combined with the Reds’ loss in Pittsburgh, the Cardinals increased their lead for the second wild-card spot to 1 ½ games

QUEENS, N.Y. — Wednesday’s Game Report: Cardinals 11, Mets 4

By Rob Rains, STLSportsPage.com

There were plenty of offensive highlights for the Cardinals on Wednesday night – a five-run first inning, 16 hits, four home runs – but it was a hit that the Mets didn’t get which might have changed the game’s outcome.

Inserted into the game as part of a double switch in the seventh inning, Lars Nootbaar went over the wall in right to make a leaping catch and take away a three-run homer from Pete Alonso.

If Nootbaar had not made the catch, the Mets would have cut the lead to 8-7 and there’s no way to predict – especially after the crazy final innings of Tuesday night’s game – what would have happened over the final two innings.

The Cardinals took away the potential for any late-inning drama with Nootbaar’s catch and a three-run eighth inning that capped their first three-game sweep in New York since 2001, when the Mets still played at Shea Stadium.

The win was the fifth in a row for the Cardinals, their seventh in their last eight games and improved their record to seven games over .500 for the first time since May 30. Combined with the Reds’ loss in Pittsburgh, the Cardinals increased their lead for the second wild-card spot to 1 ½ games with 17 games left in the regular season.

Here is how Wednesday night’s game broke down:

At the plate: The five runs marked the Cardinals’ second most in the first inning of a game at Citi Field, topped only by a six-run inning on July 28, 2010. Paul Goldschmidt and Tyler O’Neill hit back-to-back doubles, Dylan Carlson and Edmundo Sosa had RBI singles and Harrison Bader had a two-run single, with Sosa able to score from first base … Bader, with his parents and other family members in the stands in his home town, hit his first career homer at Citi Field in the fourth … Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado homered in the seventh and Sosa led off the eighth with the Cardinals’ fourth homer to ignite the three-run inning. Arenado’s RBI single in the eighth gave him 99 RBIs for the season … The Cardinals have hit at least one home run in their last 11 games at Citi Field, dating back to 2017.

On the mound: Jon Lester worked six innings, allowing three runs, to earn his first win after two no-decisions in which he allowed a total of three runs in 12 innings. Lester struck out seven, tying his season high … Andrew Miller failed to retire any of the three hitters he faced but T.J. McFarland was able to throw two scoreless innings, thanks to Nootbaar’s catch, before Justin Miller pitched the ninth.

Key stat: The Cardinals scored a combined 25 runs and had 41 hits in the three-game series. The 11 runs were the most they have scored in a game at Citi Field since scoring 12 on Aug. 4, 2009, their most in the 44 games they have played in that ballpark.

Worth noting: Pitching at Memphis on Wednesday, Johan Oviedo was ejected from the game after the fourth inning and his glove was confiscated because of what the umpires considered a foreign substance in his glove … Nolan Gorman homered again for the Redbirds, his 13th at Triple A and 24th overall this season.

Looking ahead: After a day off on Thursday, the Cardinals will host one of the teams they are battling for a playoff spot, the Padres, in a three-game series that begins on Friday night. Miles Mikolas will pitch the series opener, followed by Adam Wainwright on Saturday and J.A. Happ on Sunday. The Padres play in San Francisco on Thursday while the Reds also play a day game, at Pittsburgh.

Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains

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