NEW YORK — For a team that’s historically been known for pitching, speed and defense, these St. Louis Cardinals sure are hitting a lot of home runs lately.
Especially Jedd Gyorko.
Gyorko connected again, launching a two-run drive off Noah Syndergaard that sent the Cardinals over the New York Mets 3-2 Tuesday in the first game of a doubleheader.
Gyorko homered for the sixth time in eight games, giving him 13 this season.
"He’s amazing. He’s doing a great job," manager Mike Matheny said. "He’s an interesting player. I don’t think people realize how good he is."
The Cardinals lead the NL in home runs with 137, matching last year’s total. The last time they led the league was 1998, the Elias Sports Bureau said, when Mark McGwire hit 70 of their 223.
No one on the Cardinals is among the league leaders in home runs, but eight players have reached double digits.
"We have a lot of guys with 20-plus potential," Matheny said. "Not every team can say that."
St. Louis has homered in 16 straight games, its best streak since a team-record 19-game string in 2006.
The Mets played at home for the first time since the All-Star break and lost in a matchup of NL wild-card contenders. Citi Field was nearly empty at the start, a day after a rainout forced the twinbill.
New York lost despite throwing out three runners on the bases and manager Terry Collins winning a pair of replay challenges. The Mets have alternated wins and losses for the last 11 games.
"I don’t know how many times I got to say it, this is crunch time," Collins said. "Say whatever you want, this is the time where we got to win games, string them together, win eight out of 10."
Carlos Martinez (10-6) gave up a two-run homer to Rene Rivera and left after the fifth inning with a 3-2 lead. Three relievers finished, with Seung Hwan Oh getting his fifth save in six chances.
Curtis Granderson led off the Mets ninth with a single but was thrown out trying to tag up on Yoenis Cespedes’ drive that Tommy Pham caught in deep center field.
Syndergaard (9-5) has won only one of his last five starts. The All-Star had a tough sequence in the second — he got hit in the lower right leg by Pham’s one-hop single to load the bases, then made a wild, off-balance throw home on Martinez’s comebacker to let a run score.
Gyorko was hitless in his previous 10 at-bats when he connected in the third.
The Cardinals opened a 10-game trip that also takes them to Miami and Cincinnati. They arrived at their New York hotel around 8:30 a.m. Monday after plane trouble, and the rainout gave them some much-needed rest.
This was the Cardinals’ second doubleheader in a week, and their first against the Mets since 1999.
The Cardinals recalled RHP Sam Tuivailala as the 26th player for the second game. He’s made three relief appearances for St. Louis this year. The Mets brought up 27-year-old lefty Josh Smoker, who has made 43 relief appearances for Triple-A Las Vegas, and has never been in the majors.
Cardinals: RHP Jaime Garcia (7-6, 3.98) pitches Game 2. He is 2-1 with a 1.29 ERA in five career starts against the Mets. That’s his lowest ERA vs. any opponent.
Mets: RHP Bartolo Colon (8-5, 3.48) faces the Cardinals in the second game. He went 0-2 with a 15.58 ERA against them last year.