Mets Get Swept Away at Shea

It was a little bit of the old and a little bit of the new…but the results were both the same: a pair of losses by the New York Mets to the Arizona Diamondbacks, on a beautiful Sunday afternoon at Shea Stadium. The first game featured a young phenom by the name of Brandon Webb opposing the old master, Tom Glavine.

But it was pupil instructing the teacher to the tune of a 10-strikeout, 99 pitch performance that resulted in a 6-1 Diamondbacks victory in the opener. In the finale of the double dip, the ageless Randy Johnson, returning from a knee injury which hampered his early performances this season, looked like the Amazing Randy of yesteryear, as he fashioned a 12-whiff outing over six innings, while the Mets fumbled away the game, making a total of four errors. The D-Backs prevailed once again by score of 7-3.

The D-Backs started scoring immediately, when Craig Counsell began the opener with a single and promptly stole second. Mike Piazza's errant throw allowed Counsell to move to third on the play. He then scored when Junior Spivey legged out a hit to third, putting up Arizona 1-0 very quickly.

Meanwhile, Webb held the Mets hitless until the fourth inning, when Ty Wigginton and Cliff Floyd hit back-to-back singles. Mike Piazza ended the threat, however, when he grounded into an inning-ending double play.

With Arizona ace Curt Schilling recovering from an appendectomy; Webb's outing was just what the doctor ordered. Aided by a Tom Glavine miscue in the fifth inning, the D-Backs tallied two more runs when Counsell doubled in Matt Williams and Steve Finley.

Counsell capped a huge game when he drove in two insurance runs in the seventh inning. After Williams hammered his second homerun of the season to open the frame, Finley doubled and moved the third on a single by catcher Robby Hammock. Counsell brought home both runners with a two-base knock of his own, giving Arizona a 6-0 lead. Glavine was chased, and his record dropped to 3-2.

Webb twirled seven magnificent innings and he was relieved by young Oscar Villarreal, who yielded the lone New York run on a homer by Tony Clark in the eighth. For the Mets, it was much too little, much too late, as Mike Myers closed them down in the ninth.

In the nightcap, Randy Johnson (1-2) began the festivities by fanning the side. Despite the heavy strikeout total, it was not an automatic outing for Randy. He struggled throughout the early innings, but managed to slither out of trouble.

The Mets scored first when Tsuyoshi Shinjo singled home Tony Clark in the second inning. The D-Backs came right back in the third, when Mark Grace singled in a pair of runs, giving Arizona a 2-1 lead. Jae Seo (1-2) once again pitched well for the Mets, but was done in by the poor defensive work of his team-mates. Joe McEwing's error opened the door in the third.

The Mets knotted the score against Johnson in the bottom of the inning when Raul Gonzalez delivered Wigginton with a double. The hit put Mets at second and third with one out, but Johnson avoided further problems by getting Shinjo on a grounder and fanning catcher Vance Wilson, leaving the score at 2-2.

Johnson helped his own cause in the fourth when he singled home battery mate Chad Moeller. That hit broke the tie and the Diamondbacks would not trail again.

Mets reliever Mike Stanton gave up a sacrifice fly to Matt Williams in the seventh, as Arizona increased the lead to 4-2. The crucial play of the game came an inning later, however, when D-Backs closer Matt Mantei was brought in to face pinch hitter Mike Piazza with two outs, and a man on base. Mantei blew Piazza away and the Arizona lead remained intact.

In the ninth, the Diamondbacks put the game away, scoring three additional runs, highlighted by a Mark Grace homerun, his first of the season. The blast came against Mets closer Armando Benitez and he left the mound to a serenade of boos.

Mantei suffered a brief control outage in the ninth, as he loaded the bases with one out. But he settled down after allowing a scoring fly ball, recording the final two outs. The D-Backs won the second game 7-3, and swept the double header.

For the Mets, winners of seven of their previous ten games, it had to be a major letdown, especially with one of their aces on the mound. They will have to regroup when they take on the Cardinals Tuesday in St. Louis. It won't get any easier; they face St.Louis ace Matt Morris. The Mets will retaliate with Al Leiter (3-0), and it should one great pitching match-up.

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