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Mets take another rainout in stride

Mets take another rainout in stride

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ST. LOUIS -- There are forces of nature, Carlos Delgado recognized through a smile, that have no concerns with the brand of momentum the Mets would have carried into Game 5 of the National League Championship Series following an offensive breakout in Game 4.

"It's pretty [lousy] out there," Delgado said as heavy rains forced postponement of Monday night's Game 5 to Tuesday night at Busch Stadium. "You don't want to go play under those conditions.

"It's not about momentum. It's about rain -- [and] we can't do a thing about it."

While Mother Nature gave the Mets' Game 5 starter, Tom Glavine, an extra day, putting him back on his normal routine, the Cards were spinning the rainout to their advantage.

It's all about keeping it positive at this stage of the game, and the beaming Delgado seems to be as expert in that pursuit as in launching fastballs into the left-field seats -- something he's done three times in the series while knocking in nine runs.

"The way I look at it, Tommy gets an extra day, and that will be beneficial for us," the first baseman said.

As good as it felt to bust out in Game 4 with five RBIs -- on a three-run homer and two-run double -- in the decisive fifth and sixth innings, Delgado has been around too long to put too much stock in the carry-over factor.

"It's about winning," he said. "It's good when you fall behind 2-1 and the team wakes up offensively. It is a good feeling. But what happened [Sunday night] has to be put behind us, because it's not going to do you any good for Game 5."

Delgado's companion in the heart of the order, Carlos Beltran, is coming off a two-homer performance, sharing with Delgado and Rusty Staub (from 1973) the club record for homers in a postseason series.

As a center fielder, Beltran understands the inherent difficulties in tracking balls and making cuts and pivots, all the essentials, on a slippery field. For that reason, he didn't mind the postponement at all, momentum or no momentum.

"When you're playing on a field where there's a lot of rain, a lot of things can happen," Beltran said. "People can get hurt -- who knows?

"These games are so important, you want to play them in good conditions. The last thing you want is to lose a game because of slipping or something like that in the field."

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Glavine seemed to have mixed feelings on the postponement, having prepared himself mentally to go to the mound and now having to go through the whole process again.

On the other hand, the physical advantages of returning to his customary fifth day were too apparent to overlook.

"It's not going to hurt me," he said. "I'm not going to say it's a drastic advantage. I felt very good about going out there on short rest. It's a little bit of a letdown in that regard. In the back of your mind, you're still geared up to pitch."

Yet he is aware of the significant differences over his career in how he fares on three days' rest as opposed to four and how breaking the routine can have a disruptive impact.

Seven times in his career, Glavine has worked on fewer than four days' rest in the postseason, going 2-5 with a 6.75 ERA. Starters have worked on short rest 36 times in postseason play going back to 1999 and are a combined 8-18.

"As big a deal as we make of numbers these days," Glavine said, "my numbers certainly are not great with short rest. [Tuesday] I'll feel good about having the extra day and being back on my regular day, and I'll try to take advantage of it."

This is the second time in the series Glavine has had a start pushed back by rain. Following the Game 1 postponement in New York, he was in prime-time form, shutting out the Cards through seven innings on four hits and two walks in a 2-0 decision.

"I've turned into the rain man," he said, grinning. "Hopefully, the results will be as good as the last time we were rained out."

Thanks to Darren Oliver's six shutout innings of long relief in Game 3 and Oliver Perez making it through 5 2/3 innings in Game 4, the Mets' bullpen is in fine shape, according to pitching coach Rick Peterson.

"That's not a concern, none whatsoever," Peterson said. "They're well-rested now. At this point, it's a two-out-of-three [series] and everyone's available."

Manager Willie Randolph agreed that the postponement could be beneficial for both pitching staffs but, characteristically, wasn't making a big deal of the interruption.

"To me, come to the ballpark, and you're ready to play," Randolph said. "You want to play. I don't see where this necessarily makes a big difference. You want to look on the bright side of it, you want to stay on schedule [with Glavine]. Yeah, I guess so."

One possible residual benefit could involve left fielder Cliff Floyd. He could not have tested his strained left Achilles on a rainy field, so the postponement conceivably could help in his daily efforts to get comfortable enough to contribute.

After aggravating the Achilles tendon in the NLDS against the Dodgers -- he batted .444 in the series with a homer and two RBIs -- Floyd was forced out of Game 1 of the NLCS at Shea after two innings. He was replaced by Endy Chavez, who is 2-for-15 against the Cards but has played superbly in left field.

Randolph has said that Floyd will return to the lineup when the veteran tells him he's ready to go.

Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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