2006_04_smetslogo.jpgWhen Carlos Delgado hit a three-run homer in the first inning, Fox might have started to think about which reruns to air next week instead of baseball. Much to the network's delight -- and the Mets' chagrin -- the Cardinals rallied to a 9-6 win over the Mets on Friday to even the best-of-seven series at one game apiece. With the scored tied at 6 in the ninth, Mets closer Billy Wagner came in and promptly gave up a solo homer to So Taguchi. He allowed two more runs before leaving with two outs in the ninth. His poor outing was one of several by Mets pitchers in a game in which the they couldn't hold leads of 3-0, 4-2, and 6-4.

Delgado giveth and taketh away Friday. He added a solo homer that broke a 4-4 tie in the fifth, but an error on what could have been a double play keyed St. Louis' two-run second inning. Starter John Maine lasted only four innings and couldn't take advantage of the Mets' success against reigning Cy Young Award winner Chris Carpenter.

Blowing those leads and watching their closer give up three runs in the ninth has to have hurt the Mets' morale, but they are still in control of this series. The Cardinals need to win games started by Carpenter to have a chance, and the Mets still have a deeper bullpen and a stronger offense. Both advantages should prove valuable over the next three games. The series moves to St. Louis on Saturday, and, thanks to Wednesday's rainout, those games will be played without an off-day.