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Cards go on the offensive in rout of Mets

NEW YORK -- Strategizing against a lefty starting pitcher on Tuesday at Citi Field, the Cardinals opted to bench three of their best hitters -- all-left-handed -- on the same night.

They didn't seem to miss them.

The Cardinals exploded for 10 runs over the first six innings of their 10-2 win over the Mets, producing one of their best offensive outputs of the season while Matt Carpenter, Jason Heyward and Matt Adams lounged on the bench.

"[We] had a nice approach all day long, very relentless with how they went about it," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "Just good, tough at-bats all the way through."

In place of the usual suspects, right-hander Randal Grichuk led St. Louis' attack with three hits and three RBIs against Mets starter Jon Niese, who gave up eight runs in five-plus innings. Daniel Murphy's two-run homer against an otherwise brilliant Cardinals starter Michael Wacha was one of the few bright spots for the Mets, who saw their winning streak end at three and their sole grip on first place in the National League East slip away with the Nationals' walk-off win over the Yankees.

"I felt really good out there," Wacha said. "I was just trying to go out there and throw a lot of strikes, quality strikes. Being able to command the fastball was the main priority out there. "

Grichuk's big night: After striking out five times on Monday, Grichuk keyed the Cardinals' big offensive night with three extra-base hits and three RBIs. He stung an RBI triple in the first, doubled and scored in the third, and highlighted a six-run sixth with a two-run double. His second double was one of seven hits the Cardinals tallied in the sixth, their most productive inning this season. It was the second three-hit game of his career.

Video: [email protected]: Grichuk drives in two on double in the 6th

"It's not easy to forget about it, period," Grichuk said of his five-strikeout night. "But after that first knock in the first, I was able to relax a little bit, and I had fun the rest of the night." More >

Eight spot: Ten days ago, Niese led all Mets starters -- Matt Harvey included -- with a 1.95 ERA. He has since given up 14 runs in 11 1/3 innings, including eight in Tuesday's loss, to increase that mark to 3.72. He struggled from the start in this one, allowing single runs in each of his first four innings and four more during the Cardinals' six-run sixth. More >

Wacha's winning ways: The Cardinals improved to 8-0 behind Wacha with Tuesday's win. With a strikeout of Juan Lagares in the seventh, Wacha closed his 104-pitch night and became the third straight Cardinals starter to throw at least seven innings. He allowed a season-low four hits. He joins New York's Bartolo Colon as the National League's only six-game winners.

Video: [email protected]: Wacha strikes out five in seven innings

"He's real good," New York manager Terry Collins said. "You don't have the numbers he puts up and do what he's done in a short time without being real good." More >

Batting 1.000: A restless Citi Field crowd warmed for a moment in the bottom of the seventh, when outfielder Darrell Ceciliani legged out an infield hit in his first career plate appearance. The Mets called him up earlier in the day to replace slumping backup outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who had been designated for assignment.

Video: [email protected]: Ceciliani singles for his first career hit

Going into Tuesday's game, Mets pitchers led the Majors with a 2.31 ERA in May. They had given up a total of 37 earned runs over their first 16 games of the month before allowing 10 in this one.

With Matheny wanting to give Heyward and Carpenter a full night off, he allowed reliever Randy Choate to bat for himself in the top of the ninth. Choate, whose last plate appearance came with the D-backs in 2004, drew a full-count walk off reliever Jack Leathersich. It was the first time in Choate's 15-year career that he reached base. More >

Video: [email protected]: Choate walks in first at-bat in 11 years

"It's a much looser clubhouse tonight. Everybody is joking. Everybody can laugh at the fact that I got out there and did whatever. If that can entertain and break up the monotony, then it's worth it." -- Choate, after making a plate appearance while the Cardinals had their biggest margin of victory this season

Cardinals: Right-hander Carlos Martinez, winless in three starts this month, will look to get back on track when he faces the Mets in an 8:10 p.m. CT game at Citi Field on Wednesday. Martinez has a 10.29 ERA in May and has not finished six innings in any of the three outings. Carpenter, Heyward and Adams -- all of whom had the night off on Tuesday -- are expected back in the lineup.

Mets: Since opening the season with a 2.90 ERA in his first six starts, Colon has posted a 7.36 mark in his last two. He'll look to right things in Wednesday's 7:10 p.m. ET game against the Cardinals at Citi Field.

Watch every out-of-market regular season game live on MLB.TV.

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB, like her Facebook page Jenifer Langosch for and listen to her podcast.