Cardinals split doubleheader after falling to Mets 3-1 in nightcap

Catcher Alberto Rosario slides safely into second base on a third-inning double.

Kathy Willens/AP

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 in both games of a doubleheader Tuesday and the Cardinals wound up with a split against the New York Mets. St. Louis won the opener 3-2, then lost 3-1.

"Anytime you can win the first one, you hope to win the second one," Gyorko said. "I think the way we pitched today, we probably should’ve won two. But obviously any day that you win a game, it’s a good day."

Gyorko has homered seven times in nine games, giving him 14 this season. Last Wednesday, he homered in both ends of a doubleheader sweep over San Diego.

"He’s amazing. He’s doing a great job," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said between games at Citi Field. "He’s an interesting player. I don’t think people realize how good he is."

The Cardinals lead the NL with 138 home runs, already one more than they hit all of last year. The last time they topped the league was 1998, the Elias Sports Bureau said, when Mark McGwire hit 70 of their 223.

St. Louis has homered in 17 straight games, its best streak since a team-record 19-game string in 2006.

No one on the Cardinals is among the league leaders in home runs, but eight players have reached double digits.

"Up and down the lineup, you’ve got guys who can on any given night go out and hit the ball over the fence. That’s a luxury to have, that any guy in the lineup can change a game," Gyorko said.

Gyorko’s homer in the second inning accounted for the Cardinals’ only run against Bartolo Colon (9-5).

The 43-year-old Colon struck out eight and walked none. He retired 14 of his last 15 batters, featuring a fastball that barely reaches 90 mph.

"Anytime he’s got that command, he’s going to be pretty good," Gyorko said.

Addison Reed worked the eighth and Jeurys Familia closed for his 36th save and 52nd in a row during the regular season.

Asdrubal Cabrera ended his 0-for-32 rut with runners in scoring position with an RBI double and added a sacrifice fly off Jaime Garcia (7-7). Wilmer Flores doubled and singled twice, and Mets manager Terry Collins helped, too, winning his third replay challenge of the day.

In the opener, Gyorko homered off hard-throwing Noah Syndergaard (9-5) for a 3-0 lead in the third.

A couple hours later, Gyorko faced the crafty Colon.

"It’s definitely a difference, but you’ve just got to get a game plan for each certain guy and then just try to execute," he said.

A rainout Monday forced the first doubleheader between the Mets and Cardinals since 1999.

26TH MAN

The Cardinals recalled RHP Sam Tuivailala as the 26th player for the second game. He pitched a scoreless inning.

UP NEXT

Cardinals: RHP Adam Wainwright (9-5, 4.09) is 3-0 with a 0.93 ERA in four July starts.

Mets: RHP Logan Verrett (3-6, 4.14) starts Wednesday night vs. St. Louis. No one on the Cardinals’ active roster has batted against him.