Andres Torres lost an apparent leadoff double in the ninth inning when he was called out for missing first base, and the Cardinals held off the Mets 5-4 Monday.
"I've never seen it called. Not in the big leagues like that," Mets manager Terry Collins said.
Cardinals closer Jason Motte tied a career high by getting a five-out save. The wild card-contending Cardinals' position improved when first base umpire Dave Rackley ruled Torres missed the bag and called him out on an appeal.
"He went over the front corner with his toe and it just kicked dirt up onto the base," Rackley said.
Rackley said he wouldn't make that call if he weren't sure.
"That's what I told Terry. I wouldn't make that up," Rackley said.
Crew chief Dale Scott said the umpires watched televised replays afterward and agreed the call was correct.
"It was exactly what (Rackley) described. His foot went over, the toes hit the ground, the heel never did," Scott said. "And did you see where (Rackley) was? He was right there to make the call."
Torres was standing on second after hitting a ball down the right-field line. Instead, he returned to the dugout.
"That's not happened in my career," Motte said. "It's one out and nobody on rather than no one out and a guy on second. They can bunt him over, they have a lot of options right there."
"It definitely changes that inning," he said.
Torres insisted he ran the bases right.
"I just touched the base with my heel," Torres said. "I never thought he was going to call me out, to be honest. What can I say? Nobody's perfect."
Collins came out to argue the play, to no avail.
"I get back to the bench, and I got 10 guys telling me he touched the bag," Collins said.
Cardinals star Carlos Beltran, who was on the bench, told manager Mike Matheny to make the appeal.
"We're saying our MVP is Carlos Beltran, who never hit the field," Matheny said.
Said Beltran: "I was in the cage and watching him running. He was looking at the ball and not the bag. I saw sand coming up around the bag area and told them let's try to throw to first."
Rookie Joe Kelly (5-6) pitched 6 2/3 effective innings and also doubled for the Cardinals.
Kelly allowed five hits and two runs. He made his second start after a brief stint in the bullpen, and turned in his longest outing of the season.
Edward Mujica got the last out of the seventh, giving him 16 straight scoreless appearances since coming over from Miami at the trade deadline.
Collin McHugh (0-1), recalled from Triple-A Buffalo to make the start, lasted just four innings and gave up four runs.
"These guys fought and scratched all game and I put us in a pretty deep hole early on," McHugh said.
McHugh blanked the Colorado Rockies for seven innings Aug. 23 in his major league debut.
It took the Cardinals just two batters to give McHugh an ERA. Jon Jay led off with a triple into the left-field corner and Carpenter followed with an RBI groundout.
The Cardinals got two more in the third and Schumaker's first home run leading off the fourth made it 4-0.
Kelly had retired 10 batters in a row before walking Mike Baxter and then allowing Shoppach's homer in the seventh.
New York closed within a run on Murphy's homer off reliever Mitchell Boggs in the eighth. The Mets had the tying run at second with one out later in the inning when Motte got Scott Hairston on a soft liner and struck out Shoppach.
Jamie Garcia (3-6) will oppose Mets rookie Matt Harvey (3-3) in the second game of the three-game set. ... Beltran, who endured a 5-for-35 road trip (.143) and is battling a sore knee, was out of the St. Louis starting lineup. ... Murphy went 2 for 4, giving him an NL-leading .344 average in day games.