Tarasco Sauce: HR Adds Spice to Mets Win

Al Leiter did two things Wednesday: He stopped his personal pitching slump by only giving up one run in seven innings and striking out eight. He also made a bid to enter the Mets starting line-up by garnering two hits, including his first double in nearly three years, as the Mets beat the Minnesota Twins 4-2 courtesy of a late-inning pinch-hit home run by Tony Tarasco, on a mild Wednesday night.

Leiter's mechanics failed him again in the fourth, after he sailed through the first three innings. He loaded the bases and then hit Luis Rivas on the foot to drive in a run. It could have been worse, but Christian Guzman hit a ground ball to Rey Ordonez who got the ball over to Roberto Alomar who had a quick transfer to Mo Vaughn at first to catch the speedy Guzman by half a step to convert the double play and limit the damage to one run.

The Mets tied the game in the bottom of the inning. With one out, Leiter doubled to atone for his mistake before. Twins starter Matt Kinney, visibly tiring, having thrown nearly 90 pitches going into the fifth, a high pitch count for that point in the game, walked Alomar. Timo Perez then blooped a ball into center field, but Leiter, being a slow runner, held up at third. With the bases loaded, Mike Piazza hit a looping single to left, scoring Leiter. Alomar held at third, and the bases were still loaded with one out. That was it for Kinney, who was replaced by Tony Fiore. Fiore faced Vaughn, who hit into a fielder's choice to second, but the Twin were unable to turn a double play when Guzman bobbled the ball trying to transfer the ball to his throwing hand. He held on long enough to make the force at second, but Alomar scored and the Mets took the lead, 2-1. Edgardo Alfonzo then hit a fielder's choice to short and the inning was over.

Tarasco, pinch-hitting for Scott Strickland, who had replaced Leiter, gave the Mets much needed insurance runs when he hit a two-run pinch-hit home run off of Mike Jackson in the bottom of the eighth. Ordonez had beaten out a ball in the hole right before Tarasco's at-bat. Tarasco knew the ball was gone as soon as he hit it, flipping the bat immediately after contact. It hit the edge of the main scoreboard in center field and it gave the Mets a 4-1 lead.

Benitez, as is his penchant, gave Mets fans some heartburn, as he had to dance out of trouble again. After he got two quick outs, he gave up three consecutive singles to Twins pinch-hitters, scoring one to make it 4-2. Tarasco's home run became even more important. Benitez was able to compose himself though and strike out another pinch-hitter, Matt LeCroy, to end the game and record his sixteenth save of the season.

Notes



-Jeromy Burnitz, still mired in a slump, offered some positive signs, getting two hits Wednesday and eking a walk after falling behind in the count 0-2.
-Piazza threw out his second runner in a week, nailing Cristian Guzman trying to steal second to end the first inning.
-Leiter had an uncharacteristically wild night, walking four. He overcame the difficulties to raise his record to 7-6.
-Alomar and Piazza joined Leiter and Burnitz in the two-hit club for the game.
-Thursday's game will be the rubber match of the three game series. Steve Trachsel (4-6, 3.68 E.R.A.) will face Eric Milton (8-5, 5.50 E.R.A)

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