ST. LOUIS – Taijuan Walker allowed one hit in seven innings and the Mets scored three runs on bases-loaded walks to beat the St. Louis Cardinals 4-1 on Thursday.
Walker (2-1) struck out eight and walked none as the Mets salvaged a split after dropping the first two of the four-game series in St. Louis. New York won despite leaving 17 runners on base.
“It’s just get strike one,” Walker said. “Once I get strike one, I feel like I’m in control, and I feel like I did a good job of doing that today and just really pounding the strike zone. I feel like I could throw everything for strikes when I needed to. Even when I got behind, I was able to throw a changeup or something just to go off the fastball and get them to fly or ground out.”
Walker set the tone by striking out the side in the first inning. He retired the final 18 batters he faced after Paul DeJong reached on a fielder’s choice and throwing error that set up the Cardinals’ lone run in the second.
“He was in attack mode, pitch one,” Mets catcher James McCann said of Walker. “Every time we need to go over things for a game that’s one of the big things he talks about: attack, attack, attack.”
Trevor May struck out two in a perfect eighth and Edwin Díaz pitched around a pair of hits in the ninth to earn his fourth save in as many tries.
The Mets scored twice in the fifth without a hit. Pete Alonso reached on an error and Cardinals pitchers John Gant and Kodi Whitley combined to walk the next four batters as the Mets took a 2-1 lead.
New York tacked on two more runs in the eighth courtesy of another bases-loaded walk from right-hander Jake Woodford to Alonso and an RBI single by Dominic Smith.
“You see the guys ahead of you taking tough pitches and taking their walks, and as you walk in the box you shrink your zone, don’t want to swing at the really good pitch, you want to force the pitcher to come to you. And if he ends up dotting, he ends up dotting,” McCann said. “And we did a really good job of laying off some tough pitches and handing the baton off to the next guy.”
Gant struggled with his control all game, needing 98 pitches to get through 4 1/3 innings. He walked six and struck out five as St. Louis dropped its second straight after having won six in a row.
“I felt comfortable, felt fine, felt strong, you know, just threw too many non-competitive pitches and some of those borderline calls were balls, just didn’t go my way,” Gant said. “But not here to make excuses, I got to bear down and throw more strikes.”
Gant (2-3) stranded eight baserunners in the first four innings, including wiggling out of a bases-load jam in the third by striking out Smith looking and getting a dazzling catch in foul territory by left fielder Justin Williams on Kevin Pillar’s drive.
The Mets had at least one baserunner in every inning, aided by 11 total walks.
“Today we just had a really good overall approach,” Mets manager Luis Rojas said. “We could have scored more runs, but enough to get the win with the Walker performance.”
Harrison Bader’s sacrifice fly scored Nolan Arenado to give the Cardinals a 1-0 lead in the second. Jonathan Villar’s throwing error allowed Arenado to get into scoring position. Alonso saved a bigger inning by making a diving catch and keeping his foot on the first base bag on another errant throw from third baseman Villar.
The start of the game was delayed 15 minutes due to rain and there was another 17-minute delay in the sixth.
The Mets selected RHP Tommy Hunter from Triple-A Syracuse and optioned RHP Jordan Yamamoto.
The Cardinals recalled OF Lane Thomas from Triple-A Memphis and optioned RHP Johan Oviedo.
Mets: RHP Jacob deGrom (right lat inflammation) played catch Thursday and hopes to throw a bullpen session Friday, putting him on track to start Sunday against Arizona at Citi Field … RHP Carlos Carrasco (right hamstring strain) was transferred to the 60-day IL.
Cardinals: RHP Miles Mikolas (right shoulder) began his rehab assignment Wednesday night in a start for Memphis against visiting Durham. He allowed two runs in 2 1/3 innings and struck out three.
Mets: LHP David Peterson (1-3, 4.81 ERA) kicks off a three-game series Friday night at home against Arizona, which hasn’t announced a starter. It will be Peterson’s first career appearance against the Diamondbacks.
Cardinals: RHP Jack Flaherty (5-0, 3.41 ERA) takes on former Cardinals LHP Austin Gomber (2-3, 5.90 ERA) and Colorado on Friday night in the first of three games at Busch Stadium. Gomber was traded to Colorado on Feb. 1 in the Arenado deal.
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