The Cardinals and Mets took the series to the limit, reaching the ninth inning of Game 7 tied at 1-1, but the Cardinals benefited from Yadier Molina's two-run home run in the ninth to win the game, 3-1, and earn their second pennant in three years. St. Louis captured the 17th NL pennant in club history, placing them one behind the New York/San Francisco Giants and the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers for the most in the league after 1900. The Cardinals were making their third consecutive appearance in the NLCS; manager Tony La Russa, who led St. Louis to the 2004 pennant and previously won AL titles with the Oakland Athletics from 1988-90, became the first manager in history to win multiple pennants in both leagues.
The Mets had defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers three games to none in the NL Division Series, while the Cardinals had defeated the San Diego Padres three games to one. The Mets had home-field advantage due to their better record in the regular season (the Mets were 97-65, the Cardinals 83-78). The Mets and Cardinals previously met in the 2000 NLCS, which the Mets won in five games.
|1||St. Louis Cardinals - 0, New York Mets - 2||October 12†||Shea Stadium||56,311|
|2||St. Louis Cardinals - 9, New York Mets - 6||October 13†||Shea Stadium||56,349|
|3||New York Mets - 0, St. Louis Cardinals - 5||October 14||Busch Stadium III||47,053|
|4||New York Mets - 12, St. Louis Cardinals - 5||October 15||Busch Stadium III||46,600|
|5||New York Mets - 2, St. Louis Cardinals - 4||October 17‡||Busch Stadium III||46,496|
|6||St. Louis Cardinals - 2, New York Mets - 4||October 18||Shea Stadium||56,334|
|7||St. Louis Cardinals - 3, New York Mets - 1||October 19||Shea Stadium||56,357|
On a game pushed back a day by rain, both pitchers pitched magnificently. Tom Glavine earned the win with seven innings of shutout baseball. The only two runs came from a two-run homer by Carlos Beltrán off losing pitcher Jeff Weaver. Weaver pitched 5.2 shutout innings before giving up a single to Paul Lo Duca and then the home run by Beltrán. Glavine was aided by his defense, as the Mets turned two double plays. In the third inning, with runners on first and second, third baseman David Wright caught a line drive off the bat of David Eckstein and threw to second to double up Yadier Molina. In the following inning, Juan Encarnación flied out to shallow center to Beltrán, who threw to first on the run, doubling up Albert Pujols, who went 0-for-3 with a walk. Left fielder Endy Chávez also made an excellent diving play on a flare hit by Ronnie Belliard. He replaced Cliff Floyd, who left in the second inning when he reaggravated his injured Achilles tendon. Following the game, Albert Pujols was critical of Glavine's performance, saying that the Cards would have dominated him if they were on their "A" game.
In an exciting back-and-forth game, the Cardinals erased three deficits en route to a 9-6 victory. In the first inning, Carlos Delgado hit a three-run home run and added another home run in the fifth, both off the Cardinals' ace, Chris Carpenter. Yadier Molina then drove in two runs with a double in the second inning. José Reyes and Paul Lo Duca added an RBI each, but Scott Spiezio, who started the game at third base in place of an injured Scott Rolen, had two hits and three RBIs, including a two-run triple on an 0-2 pitch in the seventh inning to tie the game, 6-6. In the bottom of the eighth inning, Julio Franco pinch-hit for Met pitcher Aaron Heilman, which made obvious that lefty closer Billy Wagner was coming into the game in the top of the ninth inning. Left fielder Chris Duncan, a lefty hitter, was due to lead off the top of the ninth. So, Duncan was pulled in favor of So Taguchi, a right-handed-hitting outfielder who was a better defensive option than Duncan. Taguchi led off the top of the ninth with a solo homer off Mets closer Billy Wagner to put the Cardinals ahead, 7-6. St. Louis would never look back, adding two more insurance runs.
In St. Louis for the first of three games, St. Louis starter Jeff Suppan pitched eight scoreless innings and helped his own cause with a homer as the Cardinals defeated the Mets, 5-0. Scott Spiezio hit a two-run triple (his second two-run triple in as many games) in the bottom of the first inning to put the Cardinals ahead, 2-0. St. Louis would add three more runs in the second to finish the scoring for the game. Met reliever Darren Oliver pitched six shutout innings to give the bullpen a rest after Met starter Steve Trachsel would only last one inning before being pulled after getting hit by a line drive off the bat of Preston Wilson, leaving with a bruised thigh. After the game, the Mets had not scored in 12 consecutive innings, making it 14 before scoring in the third inning of Game 4. On an interesting note, Jeff Suppan has only two career home runs, both of which have been hit off Steve Trachsel. His first career home run was hit on September 10, 2005.
Game 4 was a pivotal game for the Mets, who were staring down a potential three-games-to-one deficit. They sent young Oliver Pérez, who was picked up at the trade deadline from the Pittsburgh Pirates, to face the Cardinals' own young starter, Anthony Reyes. In a game that would see an NLCS-tying record seven home runs, the Cardinals grabbed an early lead in the bottom of the second on a Yadier Molina single. It seemed to be a repeat of the night before, but in the top of the third the Mets belted two home runs, one on Carlos Beltrán's second of the series and sixth against the Cardinals in NLCS play, and another on David Wright's first hit of the series and first homer of the playoffs. Perez couldn't hold the resulting 2-1 lead for long, allowing a two-out RBI triple to Juan Encarnacion that tied the game. The game would stay tied until the top of the fifth inning when Paul Lo Duca reached on an error by Cardinal second baseman Ronnie Belliard. Beltran managed a walk, and then Carlos Delgado blasted an opposite field three-run homer, his third of the series, to make it 5-2. David Eckstein pulled the Cards back in the bottom of the fifth with a leadoff homer. But, in the top of the sixth, the Mets blew the game open. José Reyes and Lo Duca hit back-to-back singles, and Beltran walked to load the bases. Delgado then hit a ground-rule double to drive in two, and then Wright walked. Shawn Green singled to drive in one run and José Valentín, who, at that point, was only 3-for-20 in the playoffs, shot a bases-clearing double down the left field line to make it 11-3. The Cards got solo home runs from Edmonds and Molina to make it an 11-5 game, but Mets manager Willie Randolph then pulled starter Perez and bought in submarine pitcher Chad Bradford to limit the damage. Beltran would tie the NLCS record of seven home runs with another in the seventh en route to a final score of 12-5. Beltran also tied Babe Ruth for the all-time postseason record of home runs against the Cardinals hitting a total of seven home runs. He hit four home runs against the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2004 National League Championship Series while playing for the Houston Astros.
With their ace in the hole, and after Game 5 was pushed back a day by rain, giving their starter now four days' normal rest instead of three days' short rest, the New York Mets sought a 3-2 lead in the NLCS. However, pitcher Tom Glavine could not stifle the Cardinals' offense. After the Mets jumped out to a 2-0 lead, the next half-inning Albert Pujols struck for his first home run and RBI of the series to cut the Mets' lead in half. After tying the score in the bottom of fourth inning and later taking the lead in the fifth by virtue of a Preston Wilson double, the Cardinals increased their lead thanks to a pinch-hit solo blast by rookie Chris Duncan that made the final score 4-2, Cardinals. Powered by a strong pitching effort by Jeff Weaver and his bullpen cohorts, St. Louis brought New York back to earth after the Cardinals' disastrous Game 4 performance. This win moved the Cardinals within one win of their second National League pennant in three years.
Facing elimination, the Mets' John Maine stood on the mound for his biggest start of his career at that point. He allowed no runs in 5⅓ innings, earning the win for the Mets. José Reyes hit a leadoff home run in the bottom of the first, giving the Mets a lead that would never be relinquished. Reyes became the first Met to lead off with a home run in the 1st inning of a postseason game since Mets' former outfielder Lenny Dykstra in Game 3 of the 1986 World Series against the Boston Red Sox. The Cardinals stranded several runners against Maine. In the top of the first inning, with runners on second and third and one out, Maine struck out Jim Edmonds. After hitting Juan Encarnación with a pitch to load the bases, Scott Rolen flew out. In the top of the third, with a runner on second and nobody out, Maine struck out Scott Spiezio and intentionally walked Albert Pujols. Edmonds then flew out and Maine struck out Encarnación to finish the job. Shawn Green hit an RBI single in the fourth and Paul Lo Duca added two more with an RBI hit in the seventh. Billy Wagner came on in the ninth and made things interesting, giving up a two-RBI double to So Taguchi before retiring David Eckstein to end the game.
In the decisive Game 7, the Mets sent Game 4 winner Oliver Pérez to the mound against Jeff Suppan. The Mets jumped out to an early 1-0 lead when David Wright drove in Carlos Beltrán in the first with a bloop single into right field. The Cardinals tied the game in the second when Ronnie Belliard hit a sacrifice bunt that scored Jim Edmonds from third. In the fifth, with runners on first and second and two gone, Albert Pujols came up to the plate. Even with Chad Bradford warming up in the bullpen, Willie Randolph decided to stay with Pérez. He got Pujols to pop out. Pérez ran into some more trouble in the sixth with a runner on and one out, when Scott Rolen hit a long fly ball to left field. The ball cleared the fence but Endy Chávez brought it back with an amazing catch. He snow-coned the ball, jumping from the edge of the warning track to grab what looked to be an easy home run. He then threw the ball in to first base quickly to double off Jim Edmonds, who had rounded second on his way to third, to end the inning. He received two curtain calls from the Shea crowd. Mets broadcaster Gary Cohen described it this way:
Pérez deals. Fastball, hit in the air to leftfield - that's deep. Back goes Chávez, back near the wall.... leaping.... and.... HE MADE THE CATCH! He took a home run away from Rolen! Trying to get back to first, Edmonds; he's doubled off! And the inning is over! Endy Chávez saved the day! He reached high over the leftfield wall, right in front of the Mets' visitor's bullpen, and pulled back a two-run homer. He went to the apex of his leap, and caught it in the webbing of his glove - with his elbow up above the fence. A miraculous play, by Endy Chávez, and then Edmonds is doubled off first, and Oliver Pérez escapes the sixth inning. The play of the year, the play - maybe - of the franchise's history for Endy Chávez. The inning is over. |30px|30px|Gary Cohen, WFAN Endy's Amazing Catch. WFAN. Retrieved on 2007-04-11.. With the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the sixth, José Valentín and Chávez failed to get the go-ahead run in.
With the score 1-1 in the top of the ninth, Yadier Molina hit a deep fly off Aaron Heilman, in the same general direction as the one Rolen hit in the sixth. This one was too high to allow Chávez to make another circus catch, and it went for a two-run home run, giving the Cardinals a 3-1 lead with only three outs in the bottom of the ninth separating them from a pennant. However, the Mets would not go quietly. Rookie closer Adam Wainwright yielded singles to Valentín and Chávez leading off the ninth. After getting a strikeout and a flyout, Wainwright walked Paul Lo Duca to bring up Carlos Beltrán with the bases loaded and two men out. All involved, including the capacity crowd at Shea, were acutely aware of Beltran's history against the Cardinals, and the tension mounted accordingly. Down 0-2 to the rookie Wainwright, Beltran looked at a called strike three, a curveball on the outside corner at the knees, and the ballgame was over. The Cardinals had won their record 17th National League pennant.