Braves Cool Off Mets With 7-3 Win

When quickly glanced at, Monday night's game between the Mets and Atlanta Braves at Shea Stadium seems like a laugher, an easy win for the Braves, who on Sunday had seven players named to the All-Star team. However, the game was anything but, as each team made mistakes that cost them runs.

Minus two pitches, Jae Seo had an excellent start for the Mets on Monday. Seo went six innings and record six strikeouts, but also let up six earned runs. However, all six runs came in on two three-run homeruns, one in the first by Chipper Jones and one in the sixth by Roberto Fick.

Dwelving even further into Seo's line, namely, a few pitches before each homerun, it is readily apparent that Seo could have easily had a much easier and productive night. With two strikes against Marcus Giles in the first inning, Seo seemed to hit the outside corner with a fastball, but rookie homeplate umpire Alfonzo Marquez called the pitch for a ball. Later in the at bat, Giles singled past Met third basemen Ty Wigginton. Gary Sheffield, the next batter, was frozen by Seo on an inside curveball, but Marquez again did not see eye to eye with the Met rookie, and called the pitch for a ball. Sheffield later poked a single through the rightside of the infield. Chipper Jones followed Sheffield with his three-run homer, his first of two homers on the night.

The Mets did not put up a serious threat against Atlanta starter Horacio Ramirez until the fourth, when Raul Gonzalez walked and was sent to third on a Ty Wigginton double. With men on second and third and one out, Jason Phillips, who was playing first base, was unable to bring a run home as he popped up to Giles. Vance Wilson, the catcher, was also unable to plate a run, as he grounded out to Brave third basemen Vinny Castilla.

In the sixth, Gary Sheffield led off with a double to leftfield, and after a Chipper Jones groundout to Jay Bell at second, Andruw Jones was hit by an inside Seo fastball. Robert Fick followed with the three-run bomb that hugged the rightfield line and landed just fair above the rightfield scoreboard, giving the Braves a 6-0 lead.

The bottom of the sixth will be one replayed in blooper reels for years to come, as the Braves committed three errors, with two astounding goofups happening in one play. Roger Cedeno led the inning off with a double down the third baseline, and Raul Gonzalez followed him with his second single of the night. Jeromy Burnitz then hit what looked like a crucial double play ball to Giles, but the ball hopped over his glove and into rightfield, allowing Cedeno to score and Gonzalez to move to third base.

Ty Wigginton, who came into the game leading all NL rookies with 40 RBI, popped up a Ramirez offering to Fick, who had given the BRaves three runs the inning before. However, Fick would give one back by dropping the ball as Raul Gonzalez crossed the plate. Giles, who was named the NL starter at second base, tried to force Burnitz out at second, but overthrew shortstop Rafael Furcal at second, sending Burnitz to third. Jason Phillips drove Burnitz in with a sacrifice fly, but the Mets were to get no more in the inning.

Ramirez dominated the Mets from then on, no hitting them for the last three innings to throw the first Brave complete game of the year, surprising due to the Braves' rich pitching history.

Edwin Almonte, a Brooklyn-born reliever acquired from the White Sox in the Roberto Alomar trade, made his Major League debut, retiring the Braves in order in the seventh. He allowed a solo homerun to Chipper Jones in the eighth, but rebounded to retire the rest of the Braves he faced in the eight.

Rookie Jason Roach will most likely start in place of Al Leiter tomorrow, with Al Leiter being placed on the disabled list today. Roach is 0-1 with a 21.00 ERA, allowing seven earned runs in three innings in his only start this year, his Major League debut at Anaheim.

Rookie phenom Jose Reyes was sidelined for the fifth straight game with a strained hamstring, but commented that it felt much better and could return to the starting lineup Tuesday night against Atlanta.

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