Armas wins season debut as Castro powers Mets with three RBIs

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Tony Armas showed the New York Mets enough that they should consider keeping him around, and backup catcher Ramon Castro made his bid for more playing time.

Armas won his season debut after a minor league callup and Castro, the eighth-place hitter, had two hits and three RBIs in a 7-4 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday night.

Manager Jerry Manuel said he probably could keep 13 pitchers for another day or so before making a move, although Armas wouldn't be available for bullpen duty for several days. He said he would definitely look to get Castro in the lineup more often behind Brian Schneider.

"What I hope to do is keep everybody somewhat fresh," Manuel said. "In order for us to get on a streak, we're going to need everybody."

David Wright hit his 16th homer and lacked a triple for the cycle in an offense that had 14 hits after mustering six runs while dropping three of the previous four games. The Mets punished Todd Wellemeyer, the National League pitcher of the month in May but 1-2 with a 6.52 ERA and two missed turns in the rotation due to elbow woes since.

Wellemeyer, a career reliever before the second half of last season, hinted he might benefit from another break.

"I can go back out there," Wellemeyer said. "I don't want to say it, but I could probably use a couple more bullpen sessions and get to where I need to be."

Carlos Delgado was 3-for-3 with two doubles, ending a 1-for-13 slump, for the Mets and Ryan Church had two hits and an RBI.

"I'm ready," said Castro, who has 11 RBIs in 59 at-bats. "I just want to win."

Rick Ankiel hit a two-run homer and Aaron Miles hit in his 13th straight game for the Cardinals, who won 7-1 on Monday in the opener of a four-game series but have lost nine of the last 12 regular season meetings against the Mets.

Armas (1-0) was leading the PCL with a 2.54 ERA when the Mets purchased his contract from Triple-A New Orleans to fill a rotation spot created by a rainout followed by a doubleheader last week. He's 3-0 with a 3.10 ERA against the Cardinals the last two seasons and 3-0 for his career at 3-year-old Busch Stadium after allowing four runs in six innings.

"At the beginning, I thought it was going to be a wild night, but I was able to get into a litte groove and we were able to score a little," Armas said. "That was the key."

As for what happens next: "No clue."

"I'm just happy I got a win today and we'll see what happens next," Armas said. "If they want me to throw in the bullpen or whatever, I'm fine. Whatever they need."

Manuel was noncommittal, saying, "We have some issues we have to discuss."

Billy Wagner got three outs for his 19th save in 23 chances.

Five of the first six Mets reached against Wellemeyer (7-3), although New York managed only one run the first two innings on Damion Easley's RBI groundout in the second. Jose Reyes was caught stealing by a wide margin and Endy Chavez got caught in an inning-ending rundown between third and home in the first when a likely wild pitch bounced off the concrete wall behind the plate and went right back to catcher Yadier Molina.

Ankiel's 16th homer gave the Cardinals the lead in the first and Skip Schumaker's RBI double in the second made it 3-1.

Castro's two-run double tied it in the fourth, Church's RBI highlighted a three-run fourth and Wright's homer made it 7-3 in the sixth. Wright has four homers and 16 RBIs in his last 15 games.

Mets reliever Duaner Sanchez dodged serious injury when he was struck on the inside of his left knee by a line drive by Molina in the eighth. The ball deflected to Wright at third base, who threw to first for the final out of the inning. Sanchez limped off the field after receiving medical attention.

"It's getting really sore right and I don't know how it's going to be tomorrow," Sanchez said. "It should be fine."

Game notes
Paid attendance of 42,425 was the Cardinals' eighth consecutive sellout. ... The Mets have allowed a major league-low 30 steals, but Brendan Ryan was successful in the fourth and then went to third on Castro's high throw into the outfield. ... RHP Brad Thompson, recalled from Triple-A Memphis on Monday, allowed one run and two hits in four innings. It was the longest relief stint for the team this season and is Thompson's longest out of the bullpen.