Phillies Double Mets Pain

With the Philadelphia Phillies, the only sub-.500 team in the National League East and losers of four in a row, coming to town for two games, the Mets likely figured they had a good chance of getting two wins and leaving for their road trip on Thursday on a positive note.

Funny thing is that is common in baseball, the unlikely occurred, as the Phillies hit four doubles, three of them off Mets starter Steve Trachsel (3-5, 3.57 with the loss), and took advantage of overly aggressive base running by the Mets as they beat the Mets 5-3 on a humid Tuesday night.

The Phillies took the early lead in the second when Pat Burrell hit a Trachsel offering that sailed over Jeromy Burnitz's head and hit the wall, giving him a standup double. Jeremy Giambi, who was recently acquired in a trade by the Phillies, then laid down a sacrifice bunt, and Burrell moved to third. Mike Lieberthal followed by lofting a fly ball to semi-deep right field. Burnitz settled under the ball, Burrell tagged third and as soon as Burnitz made the catch, Burrell dashed towards home plate. He was able to score as Burnitz's throw was well off the mark, making Mike Piazza move over about ten feet to his left to catch it to prevent the ball from going into the Phillies' dugout.

Phillies starter Terry Adams retired the first six hitters he saw, and then Timo Perez greeted him in the third inning by turning on his first offering and hammering it to right field for a solo home run. Game tied 1-1.

Mo Vaughn, signed more for his bat than his glove, made a spectacular play in the fourth. Bobby Abreau, considered to be one of the cornerstones of the Phillies franchise, hit a screaming line drive towards first base that looked like a sure single, possibly an extra-base hit. Vaughn, showing surprising nimbleness for a man his size, dove to his right and reached across his body to snare the ball before crashing to the ground. Hundreds of miles away, a geologist likely squinted at his seismograph, wondering what had caused a tremor near the New York City area.

Adams looked like he had regained control in the fourth, inducing Edgardo Alfonzo to ground back to him, and struck out Vaughn swinging. Piazza then singled to right field. Burnitz then pulled an Adams pitch to right for a single, and that put runners on first and second. Jay Payton, who has been on the precipice of playing himself out of the lineup all season, singled up the middle, and Piazza took advantage of Doug Glanville's weak throwing arm to score and make the score 2-1. After an error by Jimmy Rollins, who bobbled what should have been an inning-ending flip to him by Jimmy Rollins, loaded the bases, Rey Ordoñez grounded out to Scott Rolen at third, who stepped on third to force out Payton and end the inning.

Ordoñez made up for his non-clutch hitting in the fifth inning by making a diving catch of a Glanville line drive.

In the fifth, after Roberto Alomar walked and Alfonzo looped a single to right, Vaughn, who is still looking to get consistently on track, hit a screaming line drive that almost beheaded Alfonzo, who was taking a lead at first. Alfonzo got out of the way, and it was a single to right. Alomar scored to make it 3-1. Piazza then worked the count to 3-1 and hit a ball that took a funny hop on Rolen. Unfortunately for Piazza, Rolen is arguably the best fielding third baseman in the game today, and he was able to catch the ball before it handcuffed him and then step on third to force out Alfonzo, then threw it across the diamond to first to get Piazza to end the inning.

The Phillies answered in the sixth, with Marlon Anderson leading off with a double. Rolen then hit a sacrifice fly to right and Anderson advanced to third. Abreau hit a double, scoring Anderson, and Trachsel found himself facing Burrell, a Mets-killer during his very short career. He got him to pop out, but then Giambi doubled to score Abreau to tie the game at 3. Lieberthal flied out to right to end the inning, but the damage was done.

The Mets were too aggressive in the seventh, and it cost them. Rheal Cormier came in the sixth to relieve Adams in the sixth and Burnitz led off the inning by one-handing a ball to right field and then hustled to second, barely beating Abreau's throw. Payton then moved Burnitz to third with a fielder's choice groundout. With Perez at the plate, the Phillies were worried about the possible bunt, so they played their infield in. Perez swung at a 3-0 pitch and grounded it to Anderson, who threw home to Liberthal, who applied the tag on Burnitz. Ordoñez then grounded out to Rollins, who flipped to Anderson at second to force out Perez and end the inning.

After Glanville led off the seventh with a single, Bobby Valentine yanked Trachsel, and brought in Mark Guthrie to face former "can't miss" prospect Travis Lee, who was pinch-hitting for Cormier. Lee showed, at least in that at-bat, why he was a widely regarded prospect by lining a long single to right field. Glanville went to third and scored when Rollins hit into a double play. Anderson then grounded out to Vaughn to end the inning.

The Phillies added another run in the eighth when Rolen singled off of David Weathers, who had just come in, to lead off the inning. Abreau then doubled and Rolen scored all the way from first. Abreau moved to third on a Burrell fielder's choice, and was denied trying to score when Lieberthal tapped a grounder to Ordoñez, who threw to Piazza, who blocked the plate and tagged him out.

The Mets threatened in the eighth by loading the bases. Piazza singled to lead off. Burnitz then flied out to shallow right, Payton popped up to Lee at first. Perez kept the inning alive by singling and Mark Johnson pinch-hit for Ordoñez and walked. Joe McEwing pinch-hit for Weathers, and with the Shea crowd on its feet, flied out to right to end the inning and put the Shea crowd back in their seats.

Jose Mesa, the Phillies closer, came in the ninth inning. He immediately ran into trouble, with Alomar singling to lead off the inning and advancing to second on a wild pitch. He then walked Alfonzo to put runners on first and second. He got Vaughn, who has hit him well in the past, to ground into a double play. He still had to face Piazza, who was the game winning run. He elected to pitch around him and walked him to face Burnitz. Piazza was lifted for a pinch runner, Ty Wigginton. Burnitz chased the first pitch and grounded to Anderson who flipped to Rollins at second for the force and the game.

Notes

-Timo Perez played left field again for the injured Roger Cedeño, who is still nursing a sore ankle from being hit by a pitch during Sunday's game.
-Three Mets-Piazza, Burnitz and Perez had three hits apiece.
-Wednesday's match up will be between Shawn Estes (2-4, 4.27 ERA) and Brandon Duckworth (2-3, 4.43 ERA).

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