Lockhart's Home Run No Sweet Symphony for Mets

Although Al Leiter pitched a game effort, two home runs by the Braves and two non-calls by second base umpire Mark Hirshbeck helped sink the Mets 3-2 on a sweltering Monday night.

After Leiter started off the game by striking out Rafael Furcal, Julio Franco went the other way and hit a home run to right center to give the Braves the early 1-0 lead.

Leiter and Braves starter Kevin Millwood dueled for the next five innings until the Braves scored again in the sixth. Franco hit a one-out single and stole second. Sheffield then hit an infield single and Franco beat Roberto Alomar's throw to the plate.

The Mets got back into the game in the bottom of the sixth when Mo Vaughn hit an opposite field single that scored Alomar, who had walked and advanced to second on a single by Timo Perez. Burnitz tied the game with his first home run in a month in the seventh.

After another non-call at second base on a double play where second baseman Jesse Garcia was clearly not even in the neighborhood of second base when completing the first part of a double play killed another Mets rally in the eighth. While there was no guarantee the Mets would have scored, given a second chance, the non-calls still hurt.

That non-call was crucial, because Keith Lockhart hit a pinch-hit home run in the top of the ninth that gave the Braves a 3-2 lead and chased off a shell-shocked Scott Strickland, who got the loss. That was all John Smoltz needed as he pitched a perfect ninth for save number 24 on the season.


-Although he had two hits, Vaughn was removed late in the game for Joe McEwing
-Tuesday's starters will be Steve Trachsel (5-6, 3.54E.R.A.) and Greg Maddux (7-2, 3.20 E.R.A).

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