Twelve runs and 14 hits later, savoring a series-tying Game 4 knockout, the Mets were feeling like heavyweight champs again.
Momentum can change that quickly, taking a series with it.
"We're in a corner," said David Wright, whose third-inning homer behind Carlos Beltran's homer got the Mets started in their Game 4 demolition of the Cards' staff. "We're going to come out swinging, playing loose, playing relaxed. If we can go out and win [Wednesday night], we put the pressure on them."
The Cards have their ace, Chris Carpenter, locked and loaded on full rest for Game 6. He'll face John Maine, who hasn't gone beyond 4 1/3 innings in two postseason starts.
Yet Game 2, matching Carpenter and Maine, was hardly a mismatch. Maine yielded four runs (three earned) in four innings, while Carpenter surrendered five runs in five innings.
"We have some confidence against Chris Carpenter," Wright said. "We scored some runs against him last time.
"It comes down to winning two games in a row. We've done it many times this year."
Carlos Delgado, the Mets' cleanup thumper, produced four of the five runs against Carpenter in Game 2 with a three-run homer in the first inning and a solo shot in the fifth.
"That kind of helps," Delgado said, referring to his very recent history against the 2005 NL Cy Young Award winner. "He's a good pitcher. He's their ace. You have to be smart, stay with your approach, grind your at-bats and make him work."
Delgado anticipates an energy surge provided by the Shea crowd.
"It'll be nice to get home," the first baseman said. "We were hoping to get back with a lead, but it is what it is. We're going to go out and play good, hard baseball. This is challenge baseball.
"Hopefully, we'll get that fan support we've had all summer."
Catcher Paul Lo Duca also made reference to the lift the home folks can provide, mentioning how "our fans are going to be jazzed up.
"It seems like we've been here a couple weeks. Hopefully, getting home in front of our fans will give us a little lift. It's going to be tough. We have to move guys over, do whatever it takes."
Having lost Game 5, Tom Glavine can only watch and cheer on his teammates now. But the ace knows what the Mets need in Game 6.
"We have to go out with the intention of playing with reckless abandon," Glavine said. "We can't think about, 'If we lose, the series over.' With this team, this year, you always have a sense that any given night, you're going to score runs."
Jose Valentin, whose two-run double gave Glavine a lead he wasn't able to hold in Game 5, feels it's all about trusting teammates, at this point.
"We've got to have faith in everyone else," he said. "We can't afford to lose any more games. We've got confidence. It's not over yet. We just need to get some clutch hits, keep playing hard and see what happens.
"We've got to go out and score some runs right away, then keep adding on. As a team, we have to take advantage of every opportunity. This is a team that won't give up until the last out is made.
"It'll be good to get back home, where our fans are on top of everybody. We've got to give every bullet we have left."