Matt Adams hit a long three-run homer, Jason Heyward also connected and the St. Louis Cardinals enjoyed their second consecutive offensive outburst, roughing up Bartolo Colon in a 9-0 rout of the New York Mets on Wednesday night.
Matt Holliday and Kolten Wong both had three hits to back Carlos Martinez (4-2), who pitched 6 1-3 innings of four-hit ball in ending his two-game skid. Following a 10-2 victory Tuesday night, the Cardinals improved the best record in the majors to 27-13.
Pitching four days before his 42nd birthday, Colon (6-3) finally began to show his age.
Trying again to become baseball's first seven-game winner, he was hit hard all game and even walked two batters — one more than he had all season.
And coupled with Washington's victory over the New York Yankees, the Mets' loss dropped them out of first place in the NL East for the first time since April 14.
Colon fell to 4-1 in seven career starts against the Cardinals. That leaves the Arizona Diamondbacks, a team he's faced only once, as the only club yet to hand him a loss.
Colon caught a break in the first inning when Jhonny Peralta's two-out drive to center bounced over the wall for a ground-rule double, scoring one run but stopping another runner at third.
His good fortune ran out in the fourth.
Heyward led off with his fourth home run, and Randal Grichuk reached on a throwing error by third baseman Eric Campbell. After an RBI single by Wong, Colon walked Matt Carpenter on a 3-1 pitch.
It was the first free pass issued by the right-hander in 48 2-3 innings, breaking the previous franchise record of 47 2-3 innings by Bret Saberhagen in 1994.
Holliday followed with a run-scoring single, and Adams made it 7-0 when he launched a shot that banged off a potato chip advertisement above the Mets' bullpen in right-center.
Grichuk had an RBI double and Wong added a run-scoring single in the fifth after a leadoff walk to Heyward.
That closed the book on Colon, charged with nine runs — eight earned — and 11 hits over 4 1-3 innings in his second consecutive poor outing. He had gone seven straight starts without a walk following a free pass to Ryan Zimmerman on opening day in Washington.
Two relievers finished a four-hitter for the Cardinals.
Cardinals: In the four-game series finale Thursday afternoon, Jaime Garcia comes off the DL to make his first major league start since June 20. The 28-year-old lefty had a setback in spring training from thoracic outlet surgery, performed in July 2014 to alleviate numbness and tingling in his pitching arm and hand.
Mets: RHP Dillon Gee (groin strain) is scheduled to make another rehab start Thursday for Class A St. Lucie at Dunedin. If he's ready to come off the DL after that, the Mets could have a decision to make about whether Gee goes back into the rotation and who might come out.
At the Major League Baseball owners meeting, Mets chief Fred Wilpon said that when Cardinal Timothy Dolan attended Tuesday night's game, the team gave him a cap with a Mets logo on one side and a Cardinals logo on the other.
Cardinals: Garcia threw 90 pitches over six strong innings Friday in a Double-A rehab start and gets a chance to fill the rotation spot that opened when ace Adam Wainwright sustained a season-ending Achilles injury last month.
"If it doesn't work, next man. Who's going to take it? That's what it is right now," manager Mike Matheny said.
Mets: RHP Jacob deGrom (4-4) is 9-1 with a 1.32 ERA in his past 11 starts at home, dating to last July. The reigning NL Rookie of the Year was 3 for 3 at the plate in his most recent outing, including two hits in a 10-run inning against Milwaukee.