The mark of Zeile

Todd Zeile finally picked up his 2,000th career hit on Sunday, completing his pursuit of another dubious milestone in this Mets' season. <P> Like Mike Piazza's career home run record for catchers, few knew that Zeile would become the 236th major league player to reach the 2,000 hit plateau, but it was a nice capper for a lengthy and serviceable professional career.

A day after strapping on Vance Wilson's catchers gear and settling behind the plate for the final time in his career – and the first time in 14 years, the second-longest span in major league history – Zeile notched the milestone hit in the ninth inning of Sunday's first game, a doubleheader defeat at the hands of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

With two outs and nobody on, Zeile smacked a bouncer up the middle that smacked off the chest of Pirates closer Jose Mesa – a winter ball batterymate of Zeile's in 1987 – and rolled away, allowing Zeile to scamper down to first base.

It was less of a storybook conclusion than the home run that Jason Bay took away on Saturday, but it marked the end of a journey fulfilled.

"It doesn't seem like something that's unattainable, because I've been playing for so long," Zeile told reporters. "It seems like this progression, by virtue of the fact that I've been plugging away for so many years, I finally just caught up to it."

The Mets were swept in both ends of the twinbill by the cellar-dwelling Bucs, yet another kick in the side for a Mets club playing out the string.

Aaron Heilman allowed just two hits through seven innings in the first game, his best start as a Met, but was handed a loss as New York managed just three hits and no runs in a 1-0 defeat.

Pitching in the nightcap, Kris Benson struggled in his first start against his former club, allowing two runs in the fourth and four more in the seventh. Bay and Ty Wigginton, both former Mets, made their mark, slugging a two-run homer and a two-run double, respectively, off Benson.

Mets Notes

  • Kaz Matsui has returned to Port St. Lucie to continue his rehabiltation, while Jose Reyes accompanied the team to Montreal. The Mets have Monday off and open their series with the Expos Tuesday.

  • According to published reports, a second tour of duty for Bobby Valentine as Mets manager is probably not on the horizon. GM Jim Duquette said as much Sunday, telling reporters that "I'm not ruling out anybody or anything, but it's probably not likely."

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