Wheeler was originally supposed to start for the Mets, pitting him against the player for whom he was traded to the Giants in July 2011. But the top prospect strained a right oblique muscle during batting practice early Wednesday, prompting the Mets to sideline him as a precaution.
Instead, Beltran and the Cardinals faced Darin Gorski, a left-hander hoping to make the Opening Day bullpen. Gorski cruised through a 1-2-3 first inning, but opened the second by walking Pete Kozma, allowing a single to Jon Jay and serving up Beltran's two-run double. Beltran later walked in the fourth inning before the Cardinals replaced him with a pinch-runner.
St. Louis starter Lance Lynn also struggled in his Grapefruit League debut, giving up John Buck's two-run homer in the second. Lynn pitched two innings, giving up four hits, walking no one and striking out three. Cardinals prospect Michael Wacha, on the other hand, dominated. The young righty struck out five during three shutout innings, in which he allowed just one hit.
Jay and Matt Adams each finished with two hits for the Cardinals, who brought more than half of their regulars on the road trip. Among them was catcher Yadier Molina, who doubled home two runs in the fourth and finished with three RBIs.
David Wright, who will leave camp on Saturday to join Team USA for the World Baseball Classic, recorded multiple hits for the Mets.
The teams traded solo homers in the later innings, as Shane Robinson hit one in the sixth for the Cardinals, with Anthony Recker answering the tally for the Mets in the seventh. Collin Cowgill also tacked on a homer in the ninth for New York.
Up next for the Cardinals: Veteran Jake Westbrook will make his spring debut on Thursday, when the Cardinals host the Marlins at Roger Dean Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for 12:05 p.m. CT. Trevor Rosenthal, who is in a three-way competition for the fifth starter spot, will follow Westbrook on the mound.
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDicomo. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.