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Ailing Mets slow Pujols, beat Cards

Mets’ Omir Santos scores on a double by Luis Castillo as Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina covers the plate in the fourth inning at Citi Field in New York Monday.

AP photo

NEW YORK — Tim Redding pitched into the eighth inning for his first win with the Mets and substitute setup man Brian Stokes got Albert Pujols to ground into a crucial double play, leading New York past the St. Louis Cardinals 6-4 on Monday night.

Daniel Murphy homered and Omir Santos went 4 for 4 in an uplifting victory for the Mets, hours after they received another dose of disheartening news. All-Star center fielder Carlos Beltran went on the 15-day disabled list with a bone bruise on his right knee, a huge blow to a team already decimated by key injuries.

Before the game, New York manager Jerry Manuel said he would keep a close eye on the spirit of his squad, also missing star shortstop Jose Reyes, slugging first baseman Carlos Delgado and three important pitchers.

But the Mets’ makeshift lineup responded with 14 hits and the pitching staff held a streaking Pujols in check. Alex Cora had a pair of RBI singles and Luis Castillo went 3 for 3 with an RBI double and a walk. Santos set a career high for hits, including a run-scoring single.

Making his seventh start for New York, Redding (1-2) was pulled after allowing a leadoff homer to No. 9 batter Brendan Ryan in the eighth, his first since Aug. 18, 2007.

Stokes came on to protect a 5-4 lead with one out and a runner on first. He got two strikes on Pujols, who hit a comebacker that Stokes turned into an inning-ending 1-6-3 double play.

Cora added an RBI single in the bottom half and Francisco Rodriguez worked a perfect ninth for his 19th save in 21 chances. The Mets won for the fourth time in 12 games.

Ryan Ludwick hit a two-run homer for the NL Central-leading Cardinals, who had won five of six. They were coming off a three-game sweep at Kansas City, where Pujols had three homers and 10 RBIs.

Leading the majors with 26 homers, including eight in the previous 10 games, Pujols went 1 for 4 with a double that preceded Ludwick’s homer.

Murphy homered leading off the fifth against Todd Wellemeyer (6-7), who lasted 5 2-3 innings. He gave up five runs and 10 hits.

With John Maine and Oliver Perez close to coming off the disabled list, Redding could be bumped from the rotation as soon as this weekend. But he delivered a solid outing, throwing his first 15 pitches for strikes and allowing five hits.

Redding gave a tired Mets bullpen a much-needed rest. Stokes served as the eighth-inning setup man because Manuel was determined to give overworked relievers Bobby Parnell and Pedro Feliciano a rest.

Braves 2, Cubs 0

ATLANTA — Javier Vazquez and three Atlanta relievers combined to shut out Chicago.

In a makeup game caused by a June 4 rainout, the Braves won a series for the first time since completing a three-game sweep of Toronto on May 24. The Braves had gone 0-5-3 in their last eight series. Atlanta and Chicago split the first two games of the original series June 2-3.

Atlanta, which snapped a two-game slide, ended the Cubs’ four-game winning streak.

Vazquez (5-6) gave up nine hits and two walks with five strikeouts. The right-hander’s victory snapped a five-start streak in which he went 0-3 despite a 3.44 ERA.

Rafael Soriano, who gave up a single and a walk, struck out the side for his sixth save in seven chances.

Chipper Jones’ sacrifice fly in the seventh inning chased Ryan Dempster (4-5).

Nate McLouth’s RBI single in the third gave the Braves a 1-0 lead. Diorys Hernandez scored from second after leading off with walk and advancing on Vazquez’s sacrifice bunt.

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