NEW YORK (AP) -- Michael Wacha recovered from a wild start to earn his first major league win and Allen Craig hit a three-run homer for the St. Louis Cardinals in a 9-2 victory over the staggering New York Mets on Tuesday night.
Matt Holliday had three hits and the NL Central leaders took full advantage of a crucial error by new Mets first baseman Daniel Murphy, who was shifted over from second after slumping Ike Davis got demoted to the minors Sunday.
David Freese extended his career-high hitting streak to 20 games, longest in the National League this season, and Wacha (1-0) even knocked in a run with a groundout for his first RBI.
Omar Quintanilla homered for the Mets, who gave up seven unearned runs and lost for the seventh time in eight games since a season-best five-game winning streak that included a four-game sweep of the Subway Series against the New York Yankees.
Jeremy Hefner (1-6) had a 2-1 lead until St. Louis scored five unearned runs in the fifth inning, capped by Craig's fifth homer. The outburst began when Jon Jay reached on a leadoff grounder to Murphy, who knocked it down on his backhand but rushed a high, off-balance throw to Hefner covering first.
Pete Kozma doubled and Hefner slammed down the rosin bag at the back of the mound after Wacha's grounder to shortstop tied the score. Matt Carpenter walked, Yadier Molina put the Cardinals ahead with an RBI groundout and Holliday reached on an infield single before Craig drove an 0-1 pitch to left-center for a 6-2 advantage.
At his best in clutch situations, Craig came in batting .400 with runners in scoring position - the same average he had last year.
St. Louis, which owns baseball's best record at 42-22, added two in the seventh after Kirk Nieuwenhuis misplayed a deep fly to right for an error. Holliday had an RBI single and reliever Josh Edgin, just recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas, walked Jay with the bases loaded to force in another run.
Shane Robinson, who replaced Craig in right field for defense, homered in the ninth off David Aardsma to make it 9-2. Craig made a painful-looking catch in the third when he fell at the base of the wall in front of the 375-foot sign, where his neck and the back of his head snapped back and hit the fence.
Wacha, drafted 19th overall a year ago out of Texas A&M, was making his third major league start after an impressive outing against Kansas City and a shaky one against Arizona.
Pitching on the road for the first time, he gave up a home run to his second batter and walked three in a 37-pitch first inning. Marlon Byrd had a sacrifice fly and the bases were loaded when Nieuwenhuis hit a grounder up the middle that appeared headed for center field and a two-run single that would have given New York a 4-0 lead.
Kozma, however, was positioned perfectly at shortstop and made a nice play to end the inning.
It was the sort of play that often goes unnoticed, but it stopped the Mets in their tracks. The 21-year-old Wacha did not walk another batter and yielded five hits over six solid innings before Randy Choate and Keith Butler finished up.
New York did not manage a hit after Jordany Valdespin's leadoff single in the fifth. With Davis sent down, Valdespin is getting an opportunity to play regularly at second base, his natural position.
NOTES: Cardinals RF Carlos Beltran, a former Mets star, was rested to give him consecutive days off. The team was off Monday and Beltran traveled home to attend commencement ceremonies for the first graduating class of his Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy in Puerto Rico. "We're happy that he was able to make that happen, and the Cardinals really tried to help out," manager Mike Matheny said. "It was a lot of travel. What he's doing down there is good for the game, good for the community." ... Matheny said RHP Jake Westbrook (elbow inflammation) is scheduled to come off the disabled list and start Friday night in Miami. ... Mets RHP Matt Harvey (5-0, 2.10 ERA) threw his bullpen session and is on target to make his next scheduled start in the series finale Thursday afternoon against RHP Adam Wainwright (9-3, 2.34). Harvey left Saturday's start after seven effective innings with tightness in his lower back.
But in doing so, at least one opponent of easy access to the contraception thinks the president is buckling to political pressure, rather than making the health of girls a priority.
The Justice Department notified U.S. District Judge Edward Korman on Monday that it will submit a plan for compliance. If he approves it, the department will drop its appeal of his April ruling.
According to the department's letter to the judge, the Food and Drug Administration has told the maker of the pills to submit a new drug application with proposed labeling that would permit it to be sold "without a prescription and without age or point-of-sale prescriptions." The FDA said that once it receives the application, it "intends to approve it promptly."
Advocates for girls' and women's rights said the federal government's decision to comply with the judge's ruling could be a move forward for "reproductive justice" if the FDA acts quickly and puts emergency contraception over the counter without restriction.
"It's about time that the administration stopped opposing women having access to safe and effective birth control," Annie Tummino, coordinator of the National Women's Liberation and lead plaintiff in a lawsuit over unrestricted access to the morning-after pill, said in an emailed statement.
She said women and girls should have "the absolute right to control our bodies without having to ask a doctor or a pharmacist for permission."
NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue welcomed the decision by the Obama administration.
"By making emergency contraception available to women of all ages, the FDA is taking an important step to reduce unintended pregnancies and put women in control of their futures," Hogue said in a statement.
But an opponent of the contraception plan, at the anti-abortion Family Research Council, criticized the government for not sticking with its decision to appeal.
"We're very concerned and disappointed at the same time because what we see here is the government caving to political pressure instead of putting first the health and safety of girls (and) parental rights," said Anna Higgins, director of the council's Center for Human Dignity.
The government had appealed the judge's underlying April 5 ruling, which ordered emergency contraceptives based on the hormone levonorgestrel be made available without a prescription, over the counter and without point-of-sale or age restrictions.
It had asked the judge to suspend the effect of that ruling until the appeals court could decide the case. But the judge declined, saying the government's decision to restrict sales of the morning-after pill was "politically motivated, scientifically unjustified and contrary to agency precedent." He also said there was no basis to deny the request to make the drugs widely available.
The government had argued that "substantial market confusion" could result if the judge's ruling were enforced while appeals were pending, only to be later overturned.
Last week, an appeals court dealt the government a setback by saying it would immediately permit unrestricted sales of the two-pill version of the emergency contraception until the appeal was decided.
The morning-after pill contains a higher dose of the female hormone progestin than is in regular birth control pills. Taking it within 72 hours of rape, condom failure or just forgetting regular contraception can cut the chances of pregnancy by up to 89 percent, but it works best within the first 24 hours. If a girl or woman already is pregnant, the pill, which prevents ovulation or fertilization of an egg, has no effect.
The FDA was preparing in 2011 to allow over-the-counter sales of the morning-after pill with no limits when Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius overruled her own scientists in an unprecedented move.
The FDA announced in late April that Plan B One-Step, the newer version of emergency contraception, the same drug but combined into one pill instead of two, could be sold without a prescription to those age 15 or older. Its maker, Teva Women's Health, plans to begin those sales soon. Sales had previously been limited to those who were at least 17.
The judge later ridiculed the FDA changes, saying they established "nonsensical rules" that favored sales of the Plan B One-Step morning-after pill and were made "to sugarcoat" the government's appeal.
He also said they placed a disproportionate burden on blacks and the poor by requiring a prescription for less expensive generic versions of the drug bought by those under age 17 and by requiring those age 17 or over to show proof-of-age identification at pharmacies. He cited studies showing that blacks with low incomes are less likely than other people to have government-issued IDs.
Reluctant to get drawn into a messy second-term spat over social issues, White House officials have argued that the FDA and the Department of Justice were acting independently of the White House in deciding how to proceed. That approach continued Monday, with the White House referring all questions about the decision to Health and Human Services.
Still, Obama has made clear in the past that he feels strongly about the limits, and he said in 2011 he supported Sebelius' decision to impose them despite the advice of her scientists.
"As the father of two daughters, I think it is important for us to make sure that we apply some common sense to various rules when it comes to over-the-counter medicine," Obama said then. ---
Associated Press Writer Josh Lederman in Washington contributed to this report.
One possibility is to seek asylum in a place that does not have an extradition pact with the United States -- there are a few in Asia a short flight away from Hong Kong where he was last spotted, but none where he is guaranteed refuge.
On Tuesday the 29-year-old Snowden's whereabouts were unknown, a day after he checked out of a trendy hotel in the Chinese territory of Hong Kong. But large photos of his face were splashed on most Hong Kong newspapers with headlines such as "Deep Throat Hides in HK," and "World's Most Wanted Man Breaks Cover in Hong Kong."
The coverage is likely to increase the chances of him being recognized although he could still blend with the city's tens of thousands of expatriates from the United States, Britain, Australia and Europe.
If and when the Justice Department charges him — and it's not certain when that will be — its next step will likely be to ask the International Criminal Police Organization, or Interpol, for a provisional request to arrest him pending extradition to the United States.
Assuming that Snowden is still in Hong Kong, the judicial proceedings for an extradition request could take a year, and once completed it would be up to Hong Kong's leader, known as the chief executive, to decide on handing over Snowden, said Michael Blanchflower, a Hong Kong lawyer with three decades of experience in extradition cases.
"Ultimately it is his decision," he said.
But even if the chief executive allows the extradition, the fugitive can request a judicial review and those decisions could be appealed up through three court levels, Blanchflower said.
Although a semiautonomous part of China, the former British colony has an independent justice system based on the British legal structure.
One option for Snowden would be to claim he is the object of political persecution, and fight the issue in the courts to avoid extradition. He could argue that he would be subject to cruel and humiliating treatment in the United States. Hong Kong changed its regulations six months ago to require that a court consider cruel and humiliating treatment and not simply torture when considering extradition requests.
It's up to "the Chief Executive to determine whether the offence is one that's of a political character, in which case the extradition is blocked," said Hong Kong-based lawyer, Tim Parker.
However, the strategy carries considerable risk because the U.S. could simply provide diplomatic assurances that he would not be subject to cruel or humiliating treatment.
"At that point it would be difficult for Hong Kong to resist deporting him," said Patricia Ho, a Hong Kong lawyer who specializes in asylum and refugee claims.
But as things stand now, there is nothing to prevent Snowden from traveling to a destination of his choice -- to one of the handful of nearby jurisdictions or countries that do not have extradition treaties with the United States.
One of the Asian countries without an American treaty is China, though there is no guarantee Beijing would want to risk a confrontation with the United States by taking Snowden in, even if it gained a windfall of sensitive American intelligence information in the process. Snowden himself has given no indication that he is prepared to cooperate with any foreign intelligence service, including China's.
China's state media has confined its coverage of the Snowden affair to factual reports, and on online social media, China's relatively unfettered venue for public discourse, comments have been largely muted.
"People in China are used to not having security and privacy on the internet, so this does not come as a big surprise," Peking University journalism professor Hu Yong said in an interview. Official media, Hu said, would "try not to focus too much on how wrong the practice is, or whether the leaker is right or wrong. They will use the news to highlight that China is not the only country with such practices."
Another Asian flight possibility for Snowden is the self-governing island of Taiwan, which split from China in 1949 after a protracted civil war, and since 1979, has not had formal diplomatic relations with the U.S.
In lieu of a formal extradition treaty, American extraction requests to Taiwan are examined on a case by case basis.
An official at the de facto U.S. Embassy in Taipei — the American Institute in Taiwan — said Taiwan has generally been cooperative on the extradition issue.
"Taipei has so far been pretty good on responding to our requests," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.
Also, any attempt by Snowden to come to Taiwan could prove extremely embarrassing to the government of Ma Ying-jeou, which while doing its best to improve relations with China, also seeks to maintain close ties with the United States, its major security backer. An official at the Justice Ministry said Tuesday there were no indications at all that Snowden would make any attempt to land on the island.
Aside from numerous flights from Hong Kong's busy international airport, Snowden could take an hour-long high speed ferry ride to Macau, also a semiautonomous region of China. From Macau he could hop over to Guangdong province in mainland China.
Beyond Taiwan and China, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and North Korea are also theoretical destinations for Snowden, because they lack extradition treaties with the U.S. But the communist or authoritarian systems they share make them unlikely destinations for a man who has gone to considerable lengths to portray his decision to reveal National Security Agency surveillance programs as an act of conscience.
Outside of Asia, Snowden might also consider seeking asylum in countries like Iceland and Russia. According to the Kommersant Daily, Moscow has said it might provide asylum. But Russia is also an authoritarian nation, so there is no guarantee that Snowden would accept any offer that Moscow rendered.
__ Enav reported from Taipei, Taiwan. Chris Bodeen in Hong Kong and AP video-journalist Isolda Morillo in Beijing contributed to this report.