ST. LOUIS -- Cardinals rookie shortstop Paul DeJong tied his career high with three hits on Friday night. He topped that feat with a historic performance on Saturday.
DeJong went 4-for-4 with a home run, three doubles and two RBIs as the Cardinals defeated the Mets 4-1 at Busch Stadium. He pushed his average to .306 and now has 10 doubles and eight homers in his first 35 games in the Majors. He hit 13 homers for Triple-A Memphis, giving him 21 on the season.
"Hitting a homer in your first at-bat gives you a nice little boost of confidence to start the day," DeJong said. "Just one of those days, in the zone, I'm seeing it really well and not thinking too much. Just going out there trying to see the ball down the middle and hit it really, that's as simple as that can be."
DeJong became the first Cardinals shortstop as well as first Cardinals' No. 8 hitter to record four extra-base hits in one game, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. DeJong had seven hits, including four doubles and two homers, in eight at-bats with three RBIs in the first two games of this series.
"Any pitch that we leave over the plate he's just getting to it, going for doubles and homers," Mets catcher Travis d'Arnaud said. "It's just one of those things where you tip the cap and next time he comes up you just try to execute pitches."
"When [DeJong] gets the opportunity, he's making things happen and we talk about the young players coming up, you get an opportunity, make the most out of it and trust yourself," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "I see these young guys not overwhelmed with the opportunity and making the most of it."
The rookie's big day helped make a winner of Adam Wainwright (10-5), who tied Bill Doak for fifth in Cardinals history with 144 wins. Wainwright struck out seven and allowed one run on five hits in 6 2/3 innings after getting roughed up his last time out. Yadier Molina and Stephen Piscotty also drove in runs. Molina and rookie Luke Voit had two hits apiece.
Mets starter Zack Wheeler (3-6), who lasted just 3 2/3 innings in his previous start, allowed eight hits, struck out five and walked one as he gutted out six innings of two-run ball. Mets right fielder Jay Bruce homered for the second straight game, giving him 23, and T.J. Rivera had three hits.
"I think the fastball command was there, better than it has been, so I'm happy with that," Wheeler said. "But I made a couple of mistakes to DeJong and Molina, and it cost me two runs."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Badly-timed baserunning blunder: The Cardinals had Wheeler on the ropes in the third inning, with a 1-0 lead thanks to DeJong's homer, and with runners on first and third with two outs and No. 4 hitter, Jedd Gyorko, at the plate. But the Mets escaped the threat when d'Arnaud caught center fielder Tommy Pham trying to steal second. d'Arnaud also threw out Molina attempting to steal third to end the fourth inning.
"Always ready," d'Arnaud said. "I know Yadi was actually 5-for-5 on the year, so I was ready for him. And Pham was [9-for-12], so I was ready for him too."
Piscotty comes up clutch: Piscotty was batting .172 (5-for-29) on the homestand when he came up in the seventh inning with one out and runners on first and third. But Piscotty came through with an opposite-field RBI single to add an insurance run and give St. Louis a 3-1 lead. Moments later, Piscotty was out on a close play at second base after Pham hit a ground ball off third baseman Rivera that went to shortstop Jose Reyes, who got the forceout at second. The play was challenged but not ruled to stand.
"I saw something great in Paul in Spring Training. I said, 'This guy is going to be a star player.' [He's] one or two more adjustments away from being an All-Star-caliber player for a long time." -- Wainwright
"He's worked hard at it. You have to give him credit. Glenn [Sherlock, the Mets' third-base coach] has done a nice job. Glenn's taken it to heart to get him better, and I think they both together have improved. Even the last one, the throw got a little long, but other than that I thought he threw the ball great. He's been throwing good. We knew he always had the arm strength, and now he's got his throwing action back. He's gotten a lot better." -- Mets manager Terry Collins, on d'Arnaud improving in the throwing game
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Molina's sixth-inning double was the 321st of his career, which tied him with Yogi Berra for 18th on the all-time list for catchers. Benito Santiago is No. 17 with 323 doubles. Ivan Rodriguez tops the career list with 572.
WHAT'S NEXT Mets: Lefty Steven Matz (2-1, 2.12 ERA) takes the mound Sunday afternoon in the series finale in St. Louis. He is coming off back-to-back seven-inning starts in which he didn't allow a run, lowering his ERA from 3.60. First pitch is set for 2:15 p.m. ET.
Cardinals: For the final game before the All-Star break, Lance Lynn (6-6, 3.87 ERA) will get the start in St. Louis on Sunday at 1:15 p.m. CT. The right-hander is 2-1 with a 2.61 ERA over three starts (four appearances) against the Mets at Busch Stadium.