Mets hold heads high

NEW YORK – Somehow, even in the deflating atmosphere of another Subway Series loss to the Yankees, there appeared to be more silver lining than usual in the Mets clubhouse.

Maybe it's because many members of this team – 16, in fact – have never seen the Yankees while wearing the word 'Mets' across their chest. Or maybe it's because the empty quotes about giving the Bombers a real run for their money weren't all that empty this time around.

"We kind of felt we could have swept this weekend," Mets manager Willie Randolph said. "It didn't work out that way."

The Mets dropped Sunday's series finale to the Yankees, 5-3, but looked for seven innings as though they were on cruise control toward taking two out of three.

After squeezing seven superb innings from a rested Pedro Martinez, Tony Womack's one-out grounder in the eighth found more heel than webbing in David Wright's leather.

A batter later, Jose Reyes picked the wrong time to get fancy on Ruben Sierra's double-play grounder, pirouetting beautifully around second base but failing to catch the ball.

The consecutive miscues helped to open the door for a three-run Yankees eighth, handing the Bombers their first lead since Friday.

"Errors are going to happen," Wright said. "Unfortunately, they came at the wrong time. "We make a play, we get out of the inning. This one's on my shoulders."

With a seven-game road trip on tap that sees the Mets head to division rivals Atlanta and Florida, it would be understandable to be concerned about the team's collective psyche.

But even though there was no salsa music blaring from the Shea speakers Sunday, there was also no head-hanging.

"Once it's over, it's over," Wright said. "You can't pout about it, you can't complain about it."

"Try to put it out of your mind as much as possible," Mike Piazza advised.

With bags packed for Atlanta, Wright and Reyes collected their respective encouraging pats on the butt – or so Cliff Floyd promised to deliver. If anything, there was just a touch of wonder and bewilderment at how the Yankees (outscored 12-11 in the three games) pulled this one out.

"It was a good pitch," insisted Roberto Hernandez, reflecting on the two-run double he allowed to Hideki Matsui in the eighth inning. "You just have to tip your hat to him. What he hit wasn't even a strike."

"We played good baseball against these dudes," said Floyd, who homered in the third inning Sunday. "If we keep that intensity up, we'll be ready to go."

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