Looper walks high-wire in ninth

New York Mets Notes and Quotes for Thursday, June 2: Braden Looper walks a high-wire act in the ninth inning; Mike Cameron catches grief and a baseball; Felix Heredia and Bartolome Fortunato face the knife...

Last Game: New York Mets 2, Arizona Diamondbacks 1. Braden Looper walked a high-wire act in the ninth inning, allowing three hits and putting the tying run at second base, but the closer wriggled out of the jam to preserve a 2-1 win and Victor Zambrano's third victory of the year.

It would have been a shame if the Mets lost this one for Zambrano, who took a shutout into the ninth inning before allowing a leadoff single to Troy Glaus. Looper came on and allowed a run-scoring single to Shawn Green and then hits to pinch-hitters Tony Clark and Alex Cintron before striking out Matt Kata, earning his 12th save of the year.

"I feel good," Looper said. "I'm throwing strikes and not walking guys, that's the most important thing. I got some ground balls, they're just finding holes. I still got the job done."

STOP, THIEF!: "I'm the leadoff man. Every time I get on base, I've got to get in scoring position." -- Jose Reyes
Carlos Beltran, playing his second straight game at "80 to 85 percent" on a strained right quad, drove in New York's first run with a groundout in the bottom of the first inning. That play scored Jose Reyes, who went 3-for-3 and stole three bases in the game.

"I'm the leadoff man," Reyes said. "Every time I get on base, I've got to get in scoring position."

The Mets tacked on a run in the eighth off reliever Lance Cormier on back-to-back doubles by Cliff Floyd and Mike Piazza.

"Too good a game pitched by Zambrano to lose," Floyd said.

The Mets are back to a game above .500 at 27-26, 2.5 games behind the division-leading Atlanta Braves. Third-place New York trails the Florida Marlins by a game in the division.

Notes, Quotes

FLASHING LEATHER: Right fielder Mike Cameron took some ribbing in the clubhouse for his leaping catch of Luis Gonzalez's deep drive in the third inning. Cameron raced back to the wall, planted his hand against the padding and snared the ball, which was in mid-tail back toward center field.

A home run taketh away? Probably not, said Floyd, but Cameron was satisfied with his highlight-reel play (for the record, the grab ranked No. 4 on ESPN's nightly Web Gems segment).

"I got an out, for his information," Cameron said. "I told him, 'Go in my house. I've got hardware in my house for making plays like that.'

AND SO IT TURNS: Miguel Cairo got yet another start at second base on Wednesday, but just hours after Willie Randolph again insisted that Kaz Matsui is still the starting second baseman, Matsui may be poised to return just by default.

Cairo – whom Randolph said was giving the Mets "energy" – made outs in his first three plate appearances against Brandon Webb and left the game with tightness in his left hamstring.

Randolph called the injury a strain, but post-game comments by Cairo seem to indicate otherwise; regardless, rest will certainly be the prescription for Cairo, who is hitting .295. Matsui pinch-hit for Cairo in the seventh inning and was booed heavily.

FELIX DONE: Lefthander Felix Heredia will have season-ending surgery Thursday on an aneurysm that was discovered in his left shoulder. Heredia was sidelined with numbness in his fingers and appeared in only three games for the Mets.

Also, Pedro Martinez's spring training buddy Bartolome Fortunato will undergo surgery on a herniated disc Thursday; his recovery time is unknown.

Minor League Report

TRIPLE-A NORFOLK: Norfolk fell in 11 innings at Pawtucket, 4-3, when Justin Sherrod reached Tides reliever Tim Lavigne for a run-scoring sacrifice fly. Jeff Keppinger had two RBI and committed an error for Norfolk (29-25), which leads Durham by four games in the International League South.

DOUBLE-A BINGHAMTON: The B-Mets were held to just one run in a 5-1 loss to Akron on Wednesday. Brian Bannister started for Binghamton and limited the Aeros to a run on five hits over six innings, but Tim McNab allowed three runs in two innings for his second loss. Binghamton (26-23) trails New Hampshire by two games in the Eastern League Northern Division.

HIGH-A ST. LUCIE: The St. Lucie Mets returned quietly from a day off, being shut out on five hits at Vero Beach Wednesday. The Dodgers scored four times in the third inning off losing pitcher Vincent Cordova, who surrendered seven hits – including a two-run homer to Andy LaRoche – in 2-2/3 innings. Fifth-place St. Lucie (20-32) trails Vero Beach by 10.5 games in the Florida State League East.

LOW-A HAGERSTOWN: The Suns tacked together a six-run fifth inning Wednesday en route to a 7-3 win over visiting Lakewood, paced by Wilson Batista's three-run homer and a solo shot from Grant Psomas. Jeff Landing went five innings and allowed three runs for the win, as the first-place Suns (33-19) maintained their lead on the South Atlantic League's Northern division.

On Deck

Pedro Martinez (5-1, 2.79) is on the hill and looks for his fourth straight win, opposing former Met Shawn Estes (4-3, 3.79) as the Mets seek a series win over the visiting Diamondbacks. First pitch is 7:10 p.m.


Join Steiner Sports and Inside Pitch Magazine on June 11 at Last Licks in Huntington, N.Y. to meet and greet Mets ace Pedro Martinez … Visit www.lastlicks.net or call 631-423-5425 for more info!

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