JUPITER, Fla. -- Behind a pair of early runs off Cardinals starter Jaime Garcia, the Mets defeated the Cardinals, 7-2, on Thursday in what was the first of six spring meetings between the two clubs.
New York had to make an early change at second base after starter Daniel Murphy experienced right hamstring tightness while rounding the bases in the top of the first. Singles by Murphy and David Wright positioned the Mets to score their first run on John Mayberry Jr.'s sacrifice fly.
That was the first of two runs scored off Garcia, one of three pitchers vying for the Cardinals' final rotation spot. Garcia struck out seven (all swinging) over four innings and allowed five hits, including a Wilmer Flores homer that gave New York a 2-0 lead in the third.
Garcia threw 45 of his 72 pitches for strikes.
Mets starter Jon Niese also pitched four innings, striking out six. The Cardinals nicked him for a third-inning run when Kolten Wong doubled and scored on a sacrifice fly by Matt Carpenter.
Wright finished with a pair of hits, the second of which skipped just over shortstop Jhonny Peralta's glove for an RBI single off of reliever Nick Greenwood in the fifth.
In the seventh, New York's Alex Castellanos tripled past a diving Pete Kozma in left field to tally an RBI. He then scored on Flores' sac fly to make it 5-1. T.J. Rivera added a pair of runs with a bases-loaded single in the eighth.
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny was not pleased with his club's overall effort, which included walking five and committing two errors in the field.
"It was awful today. That was just ugly," Matheny said. "Spring Training or not, we have to look better than that. It was just a dead atmosphere all the way around. It was the first we've seen of that. … That won't happen again. "
Up next: Outfielder Jon Jay is expected to make his Grapefruit League debut on Friday, when the Cardinals face the Mets for the second straight day. This time the teams will meet at Tradition Field in Port St. Lucie, Fla., with first pitch scheduled for 12:10 p.m. CT, live on MLB.TV.
Jay has missed the first two weeks of games after coming into spring slowed following offseason wrist surgery. Michael Wacha is scheduled to start for the Cardinals and will be opposed by New York's Bartolo Colon.