ST. LOUIS — Adam Wainwright doesn't want his lack of success against the New York Mets to get inside his head.
"I don't feel like I have troubles against them," Wainwright said Thursday after he tumbled to 1-4 with a 7.29 ERA against the Mets in a 5-2 setback at Busch Stadium.
"I feel like I've had trouble in innings against them. Definitely," Wainwright continued. "Sometimes there's something to it. You can let it get mental; you can let it get in your head. But it's not going to get in mine."
Wainwright (5-3, 2.51 ERA) allowed two runs in the third and two more in the sixth --his final inning. Three of the runs against him were earned, while he walked one and struck out eight.
The key blows against Wainwright were RBI doubles by Daniel Murphy in the third and by David Wright in the sixth. Murphy had four hits and two doubles to lead the Mets, who avoided their first four-game sweep against the Cardinals in St. Louis.
"I made a couple of mistakes in the middle of the plate that ended up costing us some runs," Wainwright said. "The ones they were supposed to hit, they hit. The ones I executed, they didn't. That's how simple it is when you break that game down."
Wainwright expressed disappointment at being lifted after six innings and 87 pitches. He was coming off a two-hit shutout Saturday against the Colorado Rockies when he used 120 pitches.
"They get conscious of that, but that had absolutely no effect on me whatsoever," Wainwright said. "I only had 87 pitches. I was feeling fine. ... Yeah, I was surprised. I could have easily pitched into the seventh or eighth inning. I made a couple of mistakes in the middle of the plate. I don't think it's time to start talking about fatigue or any of that. It's a little early."
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said Wainwright "was fighting from the beginning. They had a couple of big hits that kind of stopped us for a while and we couldn't get anything going offensively. He was pretty good, but you could see he was laboring."
The Cardinals (26-14) knew it would be a difficult assignment to complete a four-game sweep of the struggling Mets (15-23). Sweeping a three-game series is a tall enough task.
"It's a tough deal, no doubt," Wainwright said. "It's a tough thing to do against anybody. Their pitcher (Jonathon Niese) pitched a great game. That made it a lot easier for them. He kept his pitch count down and he was attacking hitters."
Niese (3-4) allowed two runs (earned) on six hits in 7 1/3 innings. He induced a 5-4-3 double play from Allen Craig to end the sixth. Craig rolled into another 5-4-3 twin killing against Brandon Lyon to end the eighth after the Cardinals had cut the Mets' lead to 5-2.
"I don't think we've hit into as many double plays this year as we did in years past," Craig said. "That's the name of the game sometimes. You hit it hard and it goes right at them. In my particular situation, I could have taken some better swings on those."
The Cardinals have grounded into 38 double plays, third-most in baseball. Only Arizona and Miami have hit into more DPs.
"We've had our share of double plays this year," Matheny said. "That's something that can kill a rally in a hurry."
With one out in the eighth, Matt Carpenter doubled against Niese and Shane Robinson walked. Lyon relieved and was greeted by Carlos Beltran's single to left-center that made it 5-2. But Craig's double-play ball let the air out of a crowd of 44,068.
"We just want guys taking good, hard at-bats, and if they hit it hard at somebody, then you've got to tip your hat," Matheny said. "But you could certainly see a big inning forming if that didn't happen."
The Cardinals led the major leagues when they hit into 169 double plays in 2011, yet they won the World Series. They rapped into 135 last season and are on a pace to hit into 154 this year.
"Last year, we cut them down," Matheny said. "Especially when you've got first and second ... they're looking to drive the ball hard up the middle. You get it a little bit too far to the left or to the right, it's right at somebody. That's been the case more than anything else."
Contact reporter David Wilhelm at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2665.