ST. LOUIS — Felipe Lopez hit a
grand slam in the seventh inning to back Chris Carpenter's sterling
outing, and the St. Louis Cardinals rallied against the New York Mets
bullpen before holding on for a 4-3 victory on Friday night.

The Mets led 1-0 on the strength of an
unearned run and stingy work from Oliver Perez before Lopez hit his
fifth career grand slam off 32-year-old rookie Raul Valdes. His first
homer of the season came on a 2-1 pitch and landed in the visitor's
bullpen in left.

Carpenter (2-0) struck out 10 in seven
innings and allowed an unearned run on four hits, making a strong
rebound from a poor outing Sunday in Milwaukee in which he allowed three
homers and seven runs — five earned — in five innings at Milwaukee.
Earlier in the week the Cardinals' ace dismissed speculation about
potential reasons for getting knocked around, saying he simply got the
ball up and paid for it.

Carpenter fanned Gary Matthews Jr.
three times and reached double digits in strikeouts for the 13th time,
and first since Sept. 7 at Milwaukee. He's 2-4 with a 3.89 ERA in six
career starts against the Mets and beat them for the first time since
Sept. 8, 2005, in St. Louis.

Perez allowed a run and four hits in 6
1/3 innings before the handing it off to the bullpen, which entered
with a 1.95 ERA that was second-best in the majors. The Mets have lost
five of six.

Fernando Nieve (0-1) got ahead 0-2 in
the count against pinch-hitters Skip Schumaker and Matt Holliday, who
didn't start due to illness, and both reached to load the bases with one
out in the seventh. Schumaker was hit on the foot on an 0-2 pitch and
Holliday walked on four straight balls after taking the first two
strikes, setting up Lopez's heroics.

Mets pinch-hitter Fernando Tatis lined
out to third on a diving play by David Freese to end the eighth,
stranding runners on second and third. Ryan Franklin allowed two runs on
three hits in the ninth with RBIs by pinch-hitter Frank Catalanotto and
Jose Reyes
, before getting his fourth save in four chances.

Jeff Francoeur was 2-for-3 with a walk
and has hit safely in the first 10 games, four shy of the Mets' record
set by David Wright last season and tied with three other players. Francoeur
is batting .457 (16-for-35).

Shortstop Brendan Ryan's throwing
error on a botched rundown in which first baseman Albert Pujols also was
at fault gave the Mets an unearned run and the lead in the second.

Francoeur was hung up between third
and home after taking a wide turn following Perez's sacrifice bunt, but
Pujols threw to third instead of home. Ryan, who was covering the bag,
uncorked a wild throw to the plate.

It was Lopez's first grand
slam since he hit one for Washington on April 4, 2008, off the Mets'
Aaron Heilman. … Mets manager Jerry Manuel, who had considered moving
leadoff man Jose Reyes to third, said before the game he'll leave Reyes
at the top of the order for now. Reyes was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.
… Pro wrestling legend Ric Flair threw out three first pitches, all
that bounced several times. … The Cardinals will present Gold Gloves
to pitcher Adam Wainwright and catcher Yadier Molina prior to Saturday's
game and Pujols will receive his NL MVP award and Silver Slugger bat
Sunday. … Wright made three nice plays at third, twice robbing Joe
and ranging far to his left to snare Pujols' grounder in the
third. … The Cardinals have won the opener of all four series.