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Cardinals Visit Mets In Rubber-Match Matinee

(Sports Network) - First-half phenom R.A. Dickey hopes to regain his lost momentum when the New York Mets host the St. Louis Cardinals today in the finale of a three-game midweek series at Citi Field.

The Cardinals pulled even in the set on Wednesday night, when Albert Pujols drove in the go-ahead run with a single in the top of the 13th inning for an 8-7 win.

Matt Holliday hit a two-run homer and drove in a total of three runs for the Cardinals, who bounced back from an 8-2 loss in Tuesday's opener.

St. Louis starter Jaime Garcia went six innings, allowing three runs on six hits, and also knocked in two runs while scoring once at the plate. Mike MacDougal (1-0) tossed a perfect 12th to pick up the win, while Ryan Franklin recorded his 19th save of the year.

Pedro Feliciano (2-6) allowed one run on one hit in 1 2/3 innings of relief to take the loss.

Angel Pagan and Carlos Beltran homered for the Mets, with Mike Hessman and Ike Davis each coming through with two RBI. Starting pitcher Johan Santana got rocked in 5 2/3 frames, however, giving up seven runs on a career-high 13 hits.

The loss was the 10th in 13 games for the Mets, who've tumbled to a distant third in the National League's East Division, 7 1/2 games behind the first- place Atlanta Braves and 6 1/2 back of the current NL Wild Card-leading San Francisco Giants.

The Cardinals kept pace with the Cincinnati Reds in the NL Central, where the teams share the divisional lead by nine games over third-place Milwaukee.

Dickey, a first-round pick in 1996 who'd pitched in 144 big-league games with 22 wins before this season, opened 2010 with six straight victories and had a 2.33 earned run average after a 5-0 defeat of Detroit on June 23. He's winless in six starts since, however, falling to 6-4 as the Mets have lost all six outings while being outscored by a 26-12 margin.

He got a touch-luck no-decision his last time out against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday, allowing just two hits in 5 2/3 scoreless innings of the Mets' 1-0 loss. New York has scored three runs or less in five of Dickey's last six starts.

The 35-year-old Nashville native is winless in three career games against the Cardinals, but 3-1 in four home starts this season.

St. Louis counters with reliever-turned-starter Blake Hawksworth, who's already equaled the four wins he notched in 30 appearances as a rookie last season.

The 27-year-old Canadian began the season in the bullpen but has been used more as a game-opener in recent weeks, and he's posted victories over Kansas City, Houston and Philadelphia as a starter since June 26.

He took a 6-5 loss in his most recent outing against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field, allowing seven hits and five earned runs in 4 1/3 innings this past Saturday.

Hawksworth has made four career relief appearances against the Mets while allowing seven hits and an unearned run in 6 2/3 innings.

The Cardinals won two of three at home over the Mets from April 16-18, but lost four of six at Citi Field a season ago.