Williams Fits Right In

Welcome to the club, Gerald Williams. <P> Williams, just recalled from Triple-A Norfolk a day prior, became the latest Met to exhibit futility with the bases loaded, whiffing for the final out of a seventh-inning threat against Twins lefthander Johan Santana.

Although Williams homered earlier in the contest and wasn't the one who gave up back-to-back homers to Jacque Jones and Matthew LeCroy in the fourth inning – Steve Trachsel was – the dual strikeouts of Mike Cameron and Williams proved to be the sticking point in New York's 5-3 loss to Minnesota Wednesday, and further continued the Mets' struggles with the bags juiced.

After Santana sent both Mets back to the bench and emptied the bases, New York's batting average with the bases loaded fell to a meager .111 (6-for-54), including 20 strikeouts.

At least Saturday at Shea Stadium, Vance Wilson managed to pop a sacrifice fly in the air and bring one of the runs home, which was almost cause for celebration.

So what can the Mets do to excise their so-called bases loaded curse? Don't ask manager Art Howe – he testily told reporters last night that he was out of responses for that particular topic.

"I'm tired of trying to answer that question," Howe snapped.

"We're going to have many more opportunities to come up in that situation," Cameron told reporters optimistically. "Eventually someone is going to hit one and just cream it."

Luckily for the Mets, they've scored some extra time to find the tonic.

Despite losing four of their last five games, New York is treading water in the NL East at 28-30, 4-1/2 games behind the Florida Marlins, who lost last night at Cleveland in the rematch of the 1997 World Series.

MORENO DISABLED: The Mets placed righthander Orber Moreno on the 15-day disabled list with a right shoulder strain after Tuesday's game, and recalled righthander Tyler Yates from Triple-A Norfolk.

Yates, who will pitch out of the bullpen after two stints with the Mets this year as a starting pitcher, was 1-0 with a 3.55 ERA in seven games at Norfolk.

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