Trachsel battered, bruised in Mets loss

Steve Trachsel left with a bruised right thigh.

By the end of the second inning, five Cardinals had already crossed the plate, Darren Oliver was stalking off the pitcher's mound and Steve Trachsel had made his way to the clubhouse, leaving with injuries to both his right leg and his pride.

If the momentum shifted with New York's stunning Game 2 loss, the freefall continued Saturday in St. Louis.

The Cardinals took a 2-1 advantage in the National League Championship Series, wiping the Mets clean with a 5-0 victory in Game 3 at Busch Stadium.

Making what could turn out to be his final start as a Met, Trachsel never quite had it.

The right-hander recorded only three outs in a 43-pitch outing, allowing a two-run triple to Scott Spiezio – his second in as many nights - and surrendering a home run to opposing starter Jeff Suppan.

"I'm definitely disappointed. It's not the way we drew up the game," Trachsel told reporters. "I never had a chance to get into a rhythm."

In all, Trachsel faced 12 batters, giving up five hits and five walks. He left a bases-loaded, none-out situation for Darren Oliver, the Mets' long reliever, in the second inning.

"Obviously Trachsel was struggling a little bit early, put some men on base early, walked five guys and that's really what helped set everything up," Mets manager Willie Randolph said. "Walking a good-hitting ballclub like that is not going to help you, and they took advantage of it."

Trachsel's second frame was a tale of insult, then injury. Trachsel first surrendered a solo home run to Suppan, the second home run of Suppan's career (both off Trachsel - the first came on Sept. 10, 2005) and then was clocked by Preston Wilson's comebacker.

The drive ricocheted off the veteran's right thigh and shot into short left field for a single, drawing immediate medical attention on the mound from Randolph and head trainer Ray Ramirez.

Trachsel stayed in for just one more batter, issuing a walk to Albert Pujols, before he was relieved.

The Mets' vaunted offense has backed Trachsel in a number of starts this season, even giving the 15-win hurler the best run support in the major leagues through a stretch of the schedule.

Cardinals starter Jeff Suppan saw to it that there would be no repeats of that.

The right-hander – who had his scheduled start pushed back to Game 3, so ace Chris Carpenter would pitch Game 2 and a possible Game 6 – upstaged his rotation companion by spinning eight innings of three-hit ball at the Mets.

Jose Reyes' third-inning triple finished as the offensive highlight for New York, which only had singles from Carlos Beltran and Jose Valentin to show for their efforts. Valentin was thrown out at second base on the fifth-inning hit, just his second of the playoffs.

"The Mets, they're a strong lineup," Suppan said. "I just went out there with the same approach I would take in any game, in any other game; that's keep the ball down, change speeds and work fast. You know, that (was) kind of my approach."

Josh Kinney finished off the complete game shutout with a scoreless ninth inning, leaving the Mets blank through their last 12 innings after Paul Lo Duca's RBI double in the sixth inning of Game 3.

"I don't think there's any real correlation or carryover from last night to tonight," Randolph said. "The team goes out and plays hard every day and tonight. Suppan pitched real well, but we'll be ready to play again (Sunday). We always are."

Meanwhile, Oliver soaked up six scoreless innings in the Game 4 effort, helping to save a bullpen that has already seen significant action in this postseason. Roberto Hernandez pitched a scoreless ninth.

"It was huge for him to be able to give us a little blow and have our main guys ready to go tomorrow," Randolph said.

And the relief corps could be in full effect for Game 4, as New York prepares to send Oliver Perez – who went 3-13 with a 6.55 ERA this season for the Mets and Pittsburgh Pirates – to the hill against Cardinals rookie right-hander Anthony Reyes.

Even with that seemingly grim situation, Randolph opted – as expected – to put on a brave face.

"It depends how you look at it," Randolph said. "We're down 2-1 and obviously we go out and win the next few games, we'll be back in it and we win three, we'll go to the World Series. You know, that's the way I'm looking at it."

Contact Inside Pitch's Bryan Hoch at metsinsidepitch@aol.com.

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