Mets Jump To Early Lead And Keep It This Time

Jeff D'Amico must have taken the notion that he was a throw-in in the offseason trade that saw Glendon Rusch go to Milwaukee for Jeromy Burnitz and D'Amico as a personal insult. He won his fourth game of the season with seven innings of three-hit ball as the Mets only needed a shaky first-inning by Marlins starter A.J. Burnett to score all three of their runs as they won 3-0 on a cool Sunday day. Unlike Saturday, there would be no let-up.

Going into the game, the Mets knew Burnett was prone to bouts of wildness. The man walked nine hitters in his perfect game last year, so they knew that he had a good chance of beating himself. He started off that way with Roger Cedeño, hitting him on the ankle with a split-finger fastball. Roberto Alomar, who had been lustily booed the previous game for his several mental errors, then laid down a perfect drag bunt for a base hit. With Mike Piazza batting, Burnett's wildness hurt him again, throwing a pitch that got past Marlins catcher Charles Johnson, and had it roll all the way to the backstop, allowing Cedeño and Alomar to advance to second and third. Piazza then drove them both in with a two-run double to give the Mets the early 2-0 lead. Burnett's wildness continued with his walking Jeromy Burnitz to have runners on first and second. Joe McEwing then laid down a sacrifice bunt, and Mo Vaughn, who has been struggling mightily of late and had been bumped down to 6 in the order because of those struggles, came to the plate. He quickly got the fans back on his side for that at-bat as he ripped Burnett's first offering between the hole in the right side between the first and second basemen to score Piazza to make it a 3-0 game. They threatened some more in the inning but Burnett struck out Payton and D'Amico to get out of the inning.

Burnitz, who has been struggling with the bat of late, showed why Valentine kept putting him out there, as he's a very good defensive outfielder. In the fourth inning, Cliff Floyd, the Marlins' dangerous slugger, hit a screaming line drive that appeared to be heading to the deep recesses of right field, certain to bounce off the wall for a double, but Burnitz, running full-tilt with his back to the infield managed to reach up while still running full bore. He then crashed into the padded wall, but held onto the ball. The wall seemed worse for the wear.

D'Amico, after surrendering a single to Preston Wilson in the first, settled down and didn't give up another hit until the fifth when Eric Owens singled. Burnett also settled into a rhythm after the first.

The Mets and their fans got a scare in the seventh, when Piazza, after being fooled on a breaking ball and tapping it to Mike Lowell at third, chugged down the line and Lowell's throw was off the mark, making Derrek Lee have to swipe tag Piazza, Piazza tried to avoid the tag and stepped on first awkwardly, his momentum making him go tumbling to the ground after the play. He sat there for a second and then made his way back to the dugout, the scowl on his face evidence he was displeased about having been fooled.

D'Amico gave way to Mark Guthrie in the eighth inning, who sandwiched between a Castillo single, struck out the side and Scott Strickland pitched a scoreless ninth for his second save of the year.


-Both Piazza and Vaughn had two hits in Sunday's game
-The Mets had two errors on the day
-Monday's series finale will be between Al Leiter (5-3, 2.32 ERA) and Ryan Dempster(2-5, 4.44 ERA)

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