Jon Jay keeps on hitting, Cardinals keep on winning

Jon Jay hits a run-scoring triple in the fifth inning of Tuesday's win over the Mets.

Jeff Curry/Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

ST. LOUIS — Jon Jay continued his strong recent stretch with two hits, an RBI and a key defensive play to help the Cardinals beat the Mets, 5-2, on Tuesday at Busch Stadium.

"He’s having a real good feel at the plate right now," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "He’s just doing everything right. He does a nice job on the bases and all the way around defensively. But the way he’s taking his at-bats, we’ve seen this before and he can just go and it’s fun to watch him go."

After getting a single in the first inning, Jay, who started in right field and batted second in the lineup, came through with a big defensive play and a clutch hit in the fifth inning.

In the top of the fifth he chased down a ball in the right-field corner that went for a double by Curtis Granderson but could have scored Eric Young Jr. all the way from first had Jay not gotten to it quickly enough.

In the bottom of the inning he had a two-out RBI triple that gave the Cardinals a 2-1 lead, then scored on a double by Matt Holliday.

"I come to the field every day ready to go and when my name’s called on, I’m ready to go," Jay said. "I’m just trying to keep things simple and try to win some ballgames."

Jay has now hit safely in 11 of his last 12 games. During that stretch he is batting .405 (15 hits in 37 at-bats) with four multi-hit games.

"I’m just getting pitches to hit and taking advantage of it," he said. "That’s about it."

3 UP

— Michael Wacha. The right-hander came through with a strong effort after back-to-back losses in Kansas City and Tampa Bay. Wacha allowed one run on five hits over six innings, with seven strikeouts and two walks. He walked the tightrope at times, but worked out of trouble in the fifth inning — he struck out Daniel Murphy after Young singled and Granderson doubled with two outs — and then left a runner stranded at third base in the sixth when he struck out Ruben Tejada.

"I think in those past starts it was definitely those walks and then just not making pitches with guys in scoring position," Wacha said. "I tried to make that one of the big emphases tonight, and whenever those guys were in scoring position just trying to slow the game down and really just try to make my pitch in that situation."

— Sam Freeman. The lefty reliever tossed two perfect innings in relief of Wacha, retiring the side in the seventh and eighth innings. He had never recorded more than five outs in a major-league game.


"That was a great, great outing," Matheny said. "He ran right through the meat of their lineup. He’s continuing to be able to handle the big pressure situations and the big part of their lineups and be able to face some tough right-handers as well, which makes him very versatile."

Freeman lowered his ERA to 0.84.

— Pat Neshek. With closer Trevor Rosenthal not available, Neshek was thrown into a fireman’s role after Jason Motte struggled at the start of the ninth inning. But the right-hander retired the three batters he faced in order to record his second save of the season and lower his ERA to 0.92.

3 DOWN

— Allen Craig. The Cardinals’ first baseman made a nice snag of a grounder in the top of the first inning to rob Murphy of a base hit, but his night went downhill from there. He went hitless in four at-bats, including strikeouts in the fifth (swinging) and seventh (looking).

— Mark Ellis. Ellis got the start at second base with a lefthander on the mound for the Mets, but he went hitless in four at-bats and his batting average dropped to .188.  

— Motte. The former Cardinals closer entered the ninth inning with a four-run lead but failed to record an out. Lucas Duda led off with a home run, his ninth of the season, into the right-field seats. Then Anthony Recker followed with a double and Matheny removed Motte in favor of Neshek.

"He just had a couple balls that got up," Matheny said. "All in all I’ve been real happy with Jason’s stuff. He’s making the right progress. I know it’s always frustrating for guys coming off that surgery. They want just a little bit more. But we’re impressed with where he is right now. But we’re also going to keep a close eye and when we get into a tight situation like that, and Pat’s been rested –- if Trevor was rested he would have been in there –- but Pat was ready to go and came in and did a real nice job. Very efficient."

You can follow Nate Latsch on Twitter at @NateLatsch or email him at natelatsch@gmail.com.