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After the Mets' Tom Glavine and the Cardinals' Jeff Weaver exchanged shutout innings Thursday, few were surprised by who blinked first. Weaver did when he allowed a two-run homer by Carlos Beltran in the sixth. The shot broke a scoreless tie and helped the Mets to a Game 1 win. With their only reliable starter going, the Mets surely wanted this game. Series are not won or lost in the first game, but with St. Louis ace Chris Carpenter looming before Friday's game, New York is pleased to have this one in the bag.

The Mets won't lose any sleep for taking 5 2/3 innings to solve Weaver. The righty -- who has a history of large-scale implosions -- has held his own down the stretch and in the postseason. But he's always been prone to the longball, and the pitch he made to Beltran -- a fastball that tailed right back into the center fielder's wheelhouse -- remined everyone of that. The Mets don't care they took so long to get to Weaver.

They might care about Cliff Floyd's Achilles' tendon though. He left the game after aggravating the injury and was replaced by Endy Chavez. Chavez is a superior outfielder who had a woeful offensive history before this year, when he proved servicable. If Floyd's injury keeps him out the rest of the series, the Mets' loss won't be in the starting lineup but in having a shortened bench. Reserves often prove critical in postseason series, especially in the National League.

The Mets take their one-game lead into Friday night's match-up between John Maine and Carpenter.

Photo of Carlos Beltran's 2-run home run by AP/Kathy Willens