Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 6/4/12

NEW YORK -- The New York Mets got another impressive pitching performance by their starter, but the St. Louis Cardinals countered with a better one, allowing their slumping offense to find itself in a late comeback win.

The Cardinals bullpen then barely held off the Mets as St. Louis salvaged the final game of the four-game series with a 5-4 win Monday.

The Mets trailed 5-3 after Allen Craig hit a two-run homer in the top of the eighth off reliever Jon Rauch but squeezed back within one in the bottom of the inning.

Josh Thole led off the eighth with a pinch-single and Kirk Nieuwenhuis followed with a one-out double against Eduardo Sanchez to put runners on second and third. Andres Torres then made it 5-4 with a sacrifice fly, but Jason Motte came on to get David Wright on a fly to right to end the inning.

Motte pitched a perfect ninth to earn his ninth save.

Kyle Lohse shut the Mets down on two hits through six innings, allowing the struggling Cardinals hitters to finally catch up. But a two-out, two-run pinch-homer by Scott Hairston off Marc Rzepczynski in the bottom of the seventh tied the score at 3 before Craig put the Cards back ahead.

St. Louis scored just one run in the first 30 innings of the series, including back-to-back shutouts in the first two games and Johan Santana's no-hitter Friday.

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny juggled his lineup Monday, saying the "definition of insanity" was to do the same things and expect different results. Craig dropped to fifth from second, with Carlos Beltran moving from fourth to second, Yadier Molina sixth to fourth and David Freese fifth to sixth.

The lineup didn't yield much improvement for most of the hitters, but Craig came through with his homer, a RBI single, a walk and two runs scored.

Lucas Duda homered for New York, which headed to Washington for a three-game showdown a half-game back of the Nationals and Miami Marlins in the NL East. The Mets showed their recent resiliency again, coming back from a 3-1 deficit in the seventh with Hairston’s pinch-homer.

But after Mets starter Dillon Gee limited St. Louis to three runs on six hits in seven innings, Rauch gave up a leadoff single to Matt Holliday and the one-out homer to Craig to make it 5-3.

The Cardinals had taken a 3-1 lead in the seventh against Gee, when Craig led off the inning with a walk and Freese followed with a single. Daniel Descalso hit a check-swing bouncer to Gee, whose throwing error to second allowed Craig to score and make it 2-1.

Adron Chambers then hit a bouncer up the middle that shortstop Omar Quintanilla bobbled, with Chambers getting credit for a hit.

One out later, Wright dived to his left to steal a hit from Rafael Furcal and fired to second, but Chambers made a fantastic takeout slide on second baseman Daniel Murphy, eliminating the double play and allowing the run to score.

The Cardinals took a 1-0 lead in the fourth on a RBI single by Craig to bring in Holliday, who had led off with a double.

The Mets tied the score in the bottom of the fourth on Duda's homer to right, his ninth of the season.

NOTES: Left-hander Johan Santana will get two days' extra rest instead of one after his 134-pitch no-hitter last Friday, manager Terry Collins said. Collins made the decision after Santana's bullpen session Monday. The ace will now pitch Friday against the Yankees. … Right-hander R.A. Dickey would have been a possibility to pitch Wednesday on three days' rest if Santana pitched against the Nationals on Thursday, but Collins decided to keep Dickey on regular rest for Thursday. … On Tuesday, right-hander Chris Young will make his first start since last May after recovering from right shoulder surgery. Jeremy Hefner will start Wednesday. … Left-hander Jon Niese was examined by doctors Monday after he left Sunday's game with an elevated heart rate, a condition that affected him in a start last June. Doctors cleared Niese then and in spring training, and he said he had not experienced a similar incident until Sunday. … Jason Bay (fractured rib) could join the Mets by Tuesday against the Nationals, Collins said. … Cardinals left-hander Jaime Garcia, who missed his last start with left elbow inflammation, had a flight scheduled to meet the team in Houston and will make his Tuesday start, Matheny said. … Cardinals center fielder Shane Robinson was feeling better after getting scratched from Sunday's lineup with a migraine, Matheny said, but he opted to start Adron Chambers, who had two hits Sunday.

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