Bullpen Collapse Allows For 9-8 Rockies' Win

The New York Mets built a promising 7-0 lead through six innings on Tuesday evening at Coors Field in Denver, only to see the bullpen melt down over the final two innings and cost Tom Glavine a greatly deserved victory. It also ruined a magnificent night for Mike Piazza as he hammered two long homeruns and drove in three runs. The Rockies rallied for four runs in the seventh and five more in the eighth, eventually edging the Mets by a score of 9-8.

The Mets greeted Rockies starter Shawn Chacon with a three-run first inning. Ty Wigginton, as he did the previous night, cleared with bases with a triple. The Mets continued the battering of Chacon in second, scoring three more runs on doubles by Glavine and Roberto Alomar, followed by the first of Piazza's two blasts. The score after two innings was 6-0 New York.

Piazza completed the scoring off Chacon with his second homerun of the game, and sixth of the season, in the fifth inning. Tom Glavine pitched six sparkling innings for the Mets, but ran into trouble in the seventh. Brent Butler singled and Ron Belliard doubled, putting Rockies on second and third. Pinch hitter Gabe Kapler singled, scoring Butler and sending Belliard to third.

Young Pat Strange relieved Glavine, and started well as he fanned Ex-Met Jay Payton for the first out. Todd Helton grounded out and Belliard came home with the second Colorado run. Preston Wilson continued his hot hitting, blasting his 11th dinger of the season, and cutting the gap to 7-4. Strange temporarily stopped the bleeding when he fanned Larry Walker to end the inning.

The Mets added a run in the top of the eighth inning. Wigginton singled off Colorado reliever Steve Reed (3-1) and scored on a double by Tony Clark, extending the New York lead to 8-4. Another youngster began the bottom of inning for the Mets as Jason Middlebrook took the hill, and was immediately torched. He walked Jose Hernandez and Charles Johnson singled. Brent Butler brought them both home with a ringing double and suddenly the Rockies were within two runs, 8-6 and there were still no outs in the inning.

Manager Art Howe called on veteran David Weathers to put an end to the fiasco. A sacrifice by Belliard moved Butler to third, with one out. Pinch hitter Mark Sweeney drilled a single and Belliard scored to pull the Rockies to within a single run of the Mets at 8-7. Weathers retired Jay Payton for the second out. Howe went to the pen again, bringing in lefty Jaime Cerda (0-1) to face the big left-handed bat of Todd Helton.

The strategy backfired, as Helton kept the inning alive with a single, moving Sweeney to third in the process. Preston Wilson then singled in Sweeney to tie the game, with Helton replacing Mark at third. Cerda then uncorked a wild pitch, and Helton scampered home with the go ahead run. Rockies 9, Mets 8. Larry Walker made the final out, but the damage was already done.

Colorado closer Jose Jimenez entered the game in the 9th. It has not been a great year for Jimenez who entered the game with an ERA of over seven, but he put down the Mets with no great problems. He retired both Piazza and Cliff Floyd, yielded a single to Timo Perez, but nailed Ty Wigginton for the final out, posting his 9th save.

The heart-breaking loss prevented the Mets from extending their winning streak to a season high four games. It also proved once again that no lead is safe at Coors Field. The Mets will try once again to regroup and win the rubber game of the series on Wednesday. Jae Seo (1-2) will oppose Darren Oliver (1-2) in the series finale.

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