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Cards top Mets with another big HR, 5th win in a row

Starter Adam Wainwright and four relievers protected the one-run lead for the final six innings

ST. LOUIS — Another game, another three-run homer for the Cardinals.

For the fifth consecutive game, the Cardinals hit a homer with two runners on base on Monday night — this time by Nolan Arenado — in the win over the Mets in the opener of a four-game series at Busch Stadium.

The five games in a row with a three-run homer is the longest such streak in Cardinals history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The last team to hit a three-run homer in five consecutive games was the Giants in 2000.

Arenado’s home run followed singles by Dylan Carlson and Paul Goldschmidt, both with two outs, in the third inning and tied the game after the Cardinals fell behind 5-2.

The blast came after Arenado almost struck out, barely staying alive on a foul tip.

“I definitely nicked it, I’m just happy Mark (Carlson, home plate umpire) heard it. There’s no way he saw it,” Arenado said. “He heard it. Thank God he did because that wouldn’t have been good.”

What impressed Arenado more about the game than his home run was all of the quality at-bats the Cardinals had, especially in the early innings.

“It’s not really about the homers, it’s about the quality of the at-bats that we’re having as a group,” he said. “Everybody’s hitting the ball hard, working the counts. Drawing walks, doing the little things to put pressure on the pitcher. We’ve been doing that lately.”

Starter Adam Wainwright and four relievers protected the one-run lead for the final six innings.

As Alex Reyes was trying to close out the game, with just one out to go, the lights at Busch Stadium went out – for a few seconds – before coming back on.

“That’s bizarre,” said manager Mike Shildt. “Thank God a pitch wasn’t in mid-flight or the ball wasn’t going in the air for a fly ball or something like that to end the game. What do you do? What happens then? I have no explanation for it.”

Here is how Monday night’s game broke down:

At the plate: Paul DeJong and Tyler O’Neill hit back-to-back doubles after the Arenado homer to break the tie and put the Cardinals ahead 6-5 … Harrison Bader hit his second homer in as many games, a blast measured at 450 feet, in his first at-bat of the season at home with two outs in the second … Of the Cardinals' nine hits, they had two homers, three doubles and a triple, by Tommy Edman leading off the first. He then scored on a sacrifice fly by Carlson … They had only two hits after the third inning, a single by DeJong in the sixth and a double by Edman in the seventh.

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On the mound: Wainwright, pitching after coming off the COVID IL after his wife and all five children contracted the virus, picked up his first win of the season in his sixth start, working into the sixth inning, as he allowed five runs. Two of the Mets’ runs scored on a hit batter and a walk with the bases loaded in the second. It was only the second time in his career, in 166 plate appearances, that Wainwright hit a batter with the bases loaded. The other time was in 2007 … Wainwright also allowed a two-run homer on an 0-2 pitch to Kevin Pillar in the third, the first home run given up by a Cardinals pitcher in a span of 156 at-bats, covering four-plus games … Wainwright finished with five strikeouts, surpassing the 1,000 mark at Busch Stadium III in his career … Reyes issued two walks in the ninth to put the tying run on second and the go-ahead run on first before getting the final out when Dominic Smith flied to left on a 3-2 pitch. Reyes is now 8-8 in save situations and has not allowed a run this season.

Key stat: The win was the fifth in a row for the Cardinals, who improved to 9-2 in their last 11 games. They moved to five games over .500 (17-12) for the first time since the end of the 2019 season.

Worth noting: The Cardinals were awaiting the medical review of an MRI on Jordan Hicks’ right arm on Monday before making a decision on whether he will have to go on the injured list. The team did project that Johan Oviedo will be recalled to start Tuesday night’s game which would mean another player would have go on the injured list since Oviedo has not been in the minors for at least 10 days. Hicks is expected to be that player … Scans on Daniel Ponce de Leon’s right shoulder revealed no structural damage. He is expected to get an injection to reduce inflammation … Miles Mikolas will begin what likely will be a three- or four-start rehab assignment on Wednesday night at Memphis … To make room for Wainwright, the Cardinals optioned Austin Dean to Memphis. That left them with just two right-handed bats on the bench, backup catcher Ali Sanchez and infielder Edmundo Sosa … The Cardinals four full-season minor-league affiliates will play their season openers on Tuesday night. Tommy Parsons is the scheduled starter for Triple A Memphis and Domingo Robles will start for Double A Springfield.

Looking ahead: Assuming Oviedo does start on Tuesday night, he will be opposing Jacob deGrom of the Mets, arguably the major league’s best pitcher at the moment, in the second game of the four-game series.