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By JERRY BEACH
NEW YORK (AP) — Adam Wainwright won his fifth straight start in a rare matchup of 40-year -old pitchers, and the St. Louis Cardinals blanked the New York Mets 7-0 on Monday night.
Paul Goldschmidt homered and had two RBIs for the surging Cardinals, who have won five of six. St. Louis is tied with San Diego at 74-69, a half-game behind Cincinnati for the second NL wild card.
“We’ve just got to keep win- ning series,” Wainwright said. “We keep winning series and we’re going to be in good shape the last couple days.”
New York is 3 1/2 games behind the Reds, with three teams in between.
“I understand we’re up against it right now,” said 41-year-old Mets starting pitcher Rich Hill. “We’ve got to win ballgames.”
The 40-year -old Wainwright, a thorn in the Mets’ side since he saved Game 7 of the 2006 NL Championship Series by freezing Carlos Beltran with a curveball to escape a bases- loaded jam, allowed four hits in six innings. He walked three and struck out four as he outpitched Hill.
Wainwright (16-7) had just one 1-2-3 inning but worked out of trouble by stranding seven runners — including the bases loaded in the first, when he struck out Jeff McNeil on three pitches.
“I like nostalgia and I felt like all the Mets fans wanted to see me in that bases- loaded situation and I felt like they wanted to see me throw two curveballs and a change- up,” Wainwright said with a grin. “So I gave the people what they want.”
Wainwright is 9-2 with a 2.02 ERA in his last 12 starts, going at least six innings every time.
“He’s pitched extremely well,” Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said. “He’s given us a lot of innings and the residual benefit to that is we’ve been able to not use our bullpen as much.”
Dylan Carlson laced an RBI double in the second and Goldschmidt delivered a run- scoring single in the third before homering leading off the fifth.
The Mets threatened against Alex Reyes in the eighth before he struck out Pete Alonso, Javier Baez and McNeil — the 4-5-6 hitters.
“That was good to see him in that moment, kind of flip the script and get back to the Alex that we know and love,” Wainwright said of Reyes, who lost his closer’s job after posting an 8.03 ERA in 14 games from Aug. 5 through Sept. 7.
Nolan Arenado, Yadier Molina, Edmundo Sosa and Harrison Bader all had RBI singles in the ninth.
Hill (6-7) allowed three runs and six hits in five innings.
“I put us in a pretty crappy position to get an opportunity to win the ballgame,” Hill said. “That falls on me.
There’s just no excuses.”
BETTER WITH AGE
It was the first time starting pitchers 40 or older opposed one another since June 18, 2015, when 40-year -old R.A. Dickey started for Toronto against the Mets and 42- year -old Bartolo Colon.
“The game’s gone younger and 40’s quite a hallmark number to get to,” Shildt said.
Wainwright turned 40 on Aug. 30 while Hill, the oldest pitcher in the majors, turned 41 on March 11.