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Cards open 2007 season with 6-1 loss to Mets

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Chris Carpenter throws the first pitch of the season Sunday night (UPI photo/Bill Greenblatt)

By AP/KWMU

St. Louis, MO – The Cardinals opened the 2007 season Sunday night with a 6-1 loss to the Mets.

Tom Glavine earned his 291st win for the Mets. Carlos Beltran, who took a called third strike from Adam Wainwright with the bases loaded to end Game 7 of the NLCS, capped a three-run fourth with an RBI single that made it 5-0.

Beltran's most important contribution came in the field, throwing out David Eckstein trying to score from second on Preston Wilson's sharp single to center to neutralize the Cardinals' best threat in the sixth.

"That's a game-changing play, Beltran's play," Lo Duca said. "We played great defense."

The Cardinals raised their World Series flag in an hour-long pre-game ceremony that featured Hall of Famers Stan Musial, Bob Gibson, Lou Brock and Red Schoendienst, an appearance by the Budweiser Clydesdales and a convertible motorcade that passed the championship trophy near home plate.

Manager Tony La Russa, arrested during spring training on a drunken driving charge, was greeted warmly by a crowd of 45,429 at Busch Stadium, where every game has been a sellout since the ballpark opened last year.

"The day was beautiful, the fans were receptive," La Russa said. "I was overwhelmed."

But the game belonged to the Mets behind the 41-year-old Glavine, a defense that made several sparkling plays and a 12-hit attack that spanked ace Chris Carpenter. The Mets turned four double plays, the biggest when second baseman Jose Valentin snared Scott Rolen's smash up the middle with the bases loaded to end the eighth.

The Cardinals had three hits, a walk and a hit batter in the sixth but settled for Eckstein's RBI double. Yadier Molina ended the inning by breaking his bat on an infield popup with the bases loaded.

"I think we did a lot to end up with one run," La Russa said. "That ball Scott hits gets through, it's 5-3 with men on first and third."

Glavine patiently watched the Cardinals' championship celebration, realizing that his team could've been the one partying, before helping get the new year off right. Unlike some Mets who seemed to pay more attention to stretching and outfield sprints, Glavine had a sense of appreciation.

"There's no question for us as a group that it was a little bit of a disappointment that it wasn't us," Glavine said. "It could have very easily been us, but it wasn't.

"Maybe it's the kind of thing that you watch and know that when the season is over for us, that's what we want to be doing."

Glavine, counted on to lead the Mets' rotation while Pedro Martinez recovers from shoulder surgery, allowed one run and six hits in six innings before Pedro Feliciano, Joe Smith, Aaron Heilman and Billy Wagner finished.

"I'm not totally thrilled with it," Glavine said. "The good part was when I had to make some pitches, I did."

Carpenter, who led the major leagues with a 1.81 ERA at home last year, retired his first five batters, then allowed the Mets to go 9-for-15 with a sacrifice and a walk against him the next 2 1-3 innings.

"After the second inning the location of my fastball just wasn't very good," Carpenter said "I was trying to go in on those right-handers and leaving the ball in the middle of the plate.

"This isn't the way I wanted to start but I'll go get them in five days."

With the win, the Mets are 29-17 on opening day for a .603 winning percentage, the best in major league history.

The pre-game events also included a moment of silence to mark the recent deaths of former commissioner Bowie Kuhn, longtime Cardinals general manager Bing Devine and Missouri Sen. Thomas Eagleton.

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