Fiery Exchange in Dugout Leads to Heated Play

It looked like it was going to be a laugher for the Mets on Wednesday night. The Mets beat up Albie Lopez, pitching in an emergency start for the injured Greg Maddux, for seven runs, and Steve Trachsel appeared to be cruising to an early win. Things never go easily between the Mets and the Braves, as the Braves clawed back into the game, and it took a 3-2 called third strike on Gary Sheffield with runners on second and third with two outs in the ninth to win the game 7-4 for the Mets.

It had been 50 days since Lopez's last start, and Roberto Alomar reminded the Braves why they had relegated Lopez to the bullpen by hitting a long two-out home run in the first to give the Mets the early 1-0 lead.

After Lopez struck out both Mo Vaughn and Jeromy Burnitz to start the second inning, the bottom part of the order jumped on him. Roger Cedeno singled and stole second. Rey Ordonez then hit a belt-high fastball to left field for a single. Cedeno was able to score easily when Braves' left fielder Darren Bragg's throw was off the mark. Since Bragg's throw missed the cut-off man, Ordonez advanced to second. Trachsel then hit a sinking fly ball to right that Gary Sheffield appeared to lose in the stadium lights as he tried to make a sliding catch. The ball bounced past Sheffield, rolling to the wall. Ordonez scored easily, and Trachsel was able to advance to third with a stand-up triple despite his slowing down as he ran down the first base line. Timo Perez then singled and Trachsel scored to make it a 4-0 lead.

The Mets scored again in the third, when Mo Vaughn hit into a double play with Alomar on third and Piazza on first. Alomar scored, but Vaughn was not credited with an RBI.

Lopez was chased from the game in the fifth inning after giving up a single to Perez and walking Alfonzo. Kerry Ligtenberg came in and walked Alomar to load the bases. Leo Mazzone, the Braves pitching coach who rocks in his seat even when the Braves are winning, looked like he was on a hobbyhorse gone haywire. He was nervous for good reason as Mike Piazza, who loves to hit with the bases loaded, hit a two-run double to give the Mets a 7-0 lead.

Trachsel took a no-hitter into the sixth inning for the second straight start, and saw the no-hitter evaporate quickly when Javy Lopez hit a lead-off home run to whittle the lead to 7-1. Trachsel then was the victim of bad fundamental defense by the Mets. After giving up a single to Keith Lockhart, he saw Cedeño hesitate to throw the ball to second that allowed Wes Helms to advance to second safely after singling and Lockhart advanced to third. Timo Perez then overran a Rafael Furcal single up the middle that allowed Helms to score and Furcal to advance to second. It was now 7-3 and Mets fans started feeling nervous. After getting one out, Trachsel walked Sheffield, and that was it for him. David Weathers came in and quickly got a double play ball to escape the inning.

Weathers got into trouble again in the seventh, giving up a sacrifice fly to Lockhart with runners on second and third. He escaped though without giving up any more runs.

There was real trouble in the eighth when the Braves loaded the bases with no one out off of Mark Corey. What had looked like a 7-0 laugher earlier was now in serious danger of being tied, but a combination of Bobby J. Jones and Armando Benitez retired the Braves without giving up a run in the inning.

Benitez allowed runners to reach second and third before reaching back to strike out Sheffield to end the game and record his nineteenth save of the year.

Notes


-Wednesday's starters will be Shawn Estes (3-5, 4.57 E.R.A.) and Tom Glavine (11-3, 1.68 E.R.A.).
-Chipper Jones did not start the game for the Braves, due to back spasms. He did pinch-hit in the eighth, and flied out to right.
-Before the game started, Alomar and Cedeno had a verbal altercation. Mo Vaughn was the peacemaker, standing between then. It seemed to ignite the both of them, as Alomar led off the game with a home run.
-Cedeno injured his knee in the fifth, running into the padded wall along the left field line in chase of a ball. He had a contusion on his knee and left the game.

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