Mets 8, Cardinals 0

Carlos Beltran was honest: Sometimes he misses New York – and

sometimes he doesn’t.

His return to the Big Apple turned into quite a night.

Beltran and the St. Louis Cardinals were no-hit by Johan Santana

in an 8-0 loss to the New York Mets on Friday. It was the first

no-hitter in the 51-year history of the Mets, and Beltran was

involved in a disputed play that should have broken it up.

Back at Citi Field for the first time since the Mets traded him

last July, Beltran hit a line drive over third base in the sixth

inning that hit the foul line and should have been called fair. But

third base umpire Adrian Johnson ruled it foul and the no-hitter

was intact – even though a replay clearly showed a mark where the

ball landed on the chalk line.

”It was in front of his face, and he called it foul. I thought

it was a fair ball,” Beltran said. ”At the end of the day, one

hit wasn’t going to make a difference in the ballgame. We needed to

score more runs and we didn’t do that.”

Johnson explained his call to a pool reporter.

”I saw the ball hitting outside the line, just foul,” he


The umpire acknowledged that he saw the replay afterward but

declined to comment.

”It’s not like there’s going to be an asterisk by it. That’s

the way the game goes,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. ”We

could tell at the time and thought it was a hit. More importantly

than breaking up a no-hitter, it was a chance for us to get a man

in scoring position and an opportunity to get close.”

Mike Baxter then made a tremendous catch in left field to rob

Yadier Molina of extra bases in the seventh. Baxter crashed into

the wall, injured his shoulder and left the game.

After that, the Cardinals managed only an eighth-inning walk in

their third straight loss.

Making his 11th start since missing last season following

shoulder surgery, Santana (3-2) threw a career-high 134 pitches in

his second consecutive shutout. Relying on a sneaky fastball and

the baffling changeup that’s always been his signature, he struck

out eight and walked five on a windy night in New York.

Santana got a warm ovation as he headed out to the mound for the

ninth inning, and the two-time Cy Young Award winner quickly

retired Matt Holliday and Allen Craig on shallow fly balls as

frenzied fans high-fived each other and captured video of it all on

their cell phones.

With the crowd of 27,069 on its feet, World Series MVP David

Freese went to a 3-2 count before his foul tip was caught by Josh


”To throw a no-hitter you’ve got to make some good plays and

they did that, too,” Freese said. ”Our broken bats didn’t fall

and our line drives didn’t carry. He threw a heck of a game.”

Lucas Duda hit a three-run homer off Adam Wainwright (4-6) and

drove in four runs, tying a career high. Daniel Murphy added three


The no-hitter was part of a whirlwind return for Beltran, who

had a rocky tenure in New York from 2005-11 that included several

outstanding seasons and one momentous strikeout.

”I felt personally, in the years that I was healthy, I had my

best years in baseball,” he said.

Moments before the first pitch of a four-game series, the Mets

played a 1-minute video tribute to Beltran on the big scoreboard in

center field. In the dugout, he smiled and tipped his cap.

When he came to bat in the first inning, Beltran received mostly

cheers from the sparse crowd, save for a handful of boos and

catcalls. He shattered his bat on a foul ball and struck out

against Santana, his old pal.

”I have a lot of friends here that I really miss,” Beltran


Sitting in the St. Louis dugout hours before the game, Beltran

answered questions (in two languages) from a media mob for 20

minutes. He hosted a charity event in New York on Thursday night,

an off day for both teams, that was attended by Santana, Mets

manager Terry Collins and trainer Ray Ramirez.

Beltran said he really enjoyed his 6 1/2 seasons with the Mets

after signing a $119 million, seven-year contract in January 2005

that brought with it the weight of lofty expectations. He only

wishes he could have been healthy the entire time and helped the

team win a championship.

The Mets came close in 2006, when Beltran took a called third

strike with the bases loaded to end Game 7 of the NL championship

series against St. Louis. Some fans in New York haven’t forgiven


”If that’s what they want to remember, that’s them. I can’t

control that,” Beltran said. ”I just wish I could have done

different. It didn’t happen.”

It was a pivotal moment for both franchises. The Cardinals went

on to win the World Series that season and again last year. The

Mets collapsed down the stretch in 2007 and 2008, and haven’t been

back to the playoffs.

With the Mets trailing 3-1 and fans on their feet at a rocking

Shea Stadium, Beltran froze on a nasty curveball from Wainwright, a

rookie closer in October 2006. In a fitting twist, Wainwright

started Friday night for the Cardinals and Beltran was back in

center field for the first time since 2010 because of injuries to

teammates Jon Jay and Skip Schumaker.

Beltran, a three-time Gold Glove winner in center with the Mets,

graciously moved to right before the 2011 season to ease the strain

on his surgically repaired knees and make way for speedy protege

Angel Pagan.

Looking toward the future and with Beltran in the final season

of his deal, New York shipped him to San Francisco just a few days

before last year’s trade deadline for top pitching prospect Zack

Wheeler. And that was the end of Beltran’s time in New York.

”Sometimes I do miss it, sometimes I don’t. Being honest,”

Beltran said. ”I consider my time here a life experience for


Wheeler is throwing well at Double-A Binghamton, while Beltran

is off to a great start with his new team. After signing a $26

million, two-year contract with the Cardinals in December, he began

the night batting .294 with 42 RBIs and an NL-best 15 homers. He

ranks among the league leaders in several categories.

”I think he’s one of the most efficient players I’ve ever

seen,” Matheny said. ”I think in every aspect he’s been a huge

part of what’s becoming the makeup of this team.”