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Mets 6, Cardinals 4

May 12, 1997

ST. LOUIS (AP) _ Dennis Eckersley added an embarrassing footnote to a Hall of Fame career.

Eckersley allowed consecutive home runs to pinch hitters Carl Everett and Butch Huskey in the ninth inning as the New York Mets rallied from a run down to beat the St. Louis Cardinals 6-4 on Sunday.

``I know how difficult it is to do what he does,″ manager Tony La Russa said. ``It’s just one of those grabbers.

``He’s had a lot of great moments and once in a while he gets stung.″

Eckersley, 42, is third on the career saves list with 360 and also has 192 victories. He had been perfect in seven save situations this season and had a 2.16 ERA before disaster struck.

Carlos Baerga led off the ninth with a single off Eckersley (0-2). With one out Everett, batting for Manny Alexander with a 2-2 count, connected for his third homer for a 5-4 lead.

Huskey, batting for pitcher Cory Lidle, followed with his second pinch-homer in four days and sixth overall. He hit a game-winning homer in the ninth Wednesday at Houston.

Not that he likes the role.

``I’d like to be in the game,″ Huskey said. ``If it’s going to work like that all the time I wouldn’t mind doing it every day, but it’s not going to happen like that.″

This one helped the Mets finish off a three-game sweep, their first in St. Louis since 1990, and put them above .500 for the first time in nearly three seasons. The Mets hadn’t had consecutive pinch homers since Mackey Sasser and Mark Carreon connected May 4, 1991, against San Francisco.

``When you’re hot, this kind of stuff happens,″ Eckersley said. ``I’ll put it behind me tomorrow morning, but not today. You never get used to it.″

His teammates were a little shocked as well, but they weren’t holding it against their closer. Eckersley had 30 saves in 34 chances last year.

``He’s human and he’s going to have bad days,″ Royce Clayton said. ``It’s very good for us that his good days outweigh his bad days.″

It was a very good weekend for the Mets (19-18), who have won 11 of 15 and are above .500 for the first time since May 30, 1994.

``Out of spring training I always thought this club could play,″ Everett said. ``It’s coming together.″

Lidle (1-0) worked a scoreless eighth for his first major-league victory, and John Franco worked the ninth for his 10th save as the Mets went to 5-1 against the Cardinals. They took two of three last weekend in New York.

Clayton’s two-run homer in the fifth had given the Cardinals, who earlier in the game ended a 15-inning scoreless drought, a 4-2 lead. Ray Lankford added a two-run double for the Cardinals.

Clayton went 12-for-24 on the seven-game homestand and has 17 RBIs, nearly half of his 1996 total of 35.

Cardinals starter Matt Morris lasted 6 2-3 innings and allowed three runs on six hits. The Mets’ Dave Mlicki, who hasn’t won as a starter since Sept. 19, 1995, lasted six innings and allowed four runs on six hits.

Mlicki helped the Mets tie the score 2-2 in the fifth. Alex Ochoa singled, went to second on a balk and scored when Mlicki, a career .097 hitter (6-for-62), singled and Lankford bobbled the ball in center field for his fourth error.

Notes: The Mets have had two winning trips this season, one more than all of last season. This is the first time they’ve had consecutive winning trips since August and September 1995. ... Cardinals first baseman Dmitri Young missed the game with a pulled left calf muscle suffered running out a grounder in Saturday’s game. He’s listed as day-to-day. ... The Cardinals have used 31 different lineups in 36 games, mostly because of injuries. They have nine players on the disabled list. ... Lankford had one error all last season. ... Cardinals rookie catcher Mike Difelice caught two runners attempting to steal and is 9-for-15. ... New York had been 0-16 when trailing after eight innings.

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