Close, but No Cigar for the Mets

The Mets looked like they were going to pull off another comeback from a horrible Phillies bullpen, but after they had pushed three runs across in the bottom of the ninth to close within a run, Roger Cedeno hit a sharp ground ball that was trying to get to the hole, but Jimmmy Rollins was able to scoop it and toss to second for the force out to end the game and halt the Mets comeback at 9-8. The close score overshadowed the fact that it was the Mets bullpen that imploded on Friday night.

The long layoff for Jeff D'Amico, who hadn't pitched in eight days, showed itself very early, as the Phillies got two quick runs off him in the second. With Scott Rolen at second and Jeremy Giambi at first, Mike Lieberthal hit a deep fly ball to center. Jay Payton was able to track the ball down, but it glanced off his glove as he tried to make an awkward twisting, diving catch running at full speed. Giambi almost passed Rolen, who had stopped in between second and third to see if Payton would catch the ball, on the basepaths. Rolen then scored, with Giambi nipping at his heels to score the second run.

In the third, after Bobby Abreau hit a double just beyond the reach of a diving Roger Cedeno in left, Pat Burrell, who should just go ahead and legally change his name to "Met Killer", tattooed a D'Amico offering and sent a screaming line drive that barely cleared the left field wall and sent some of his teammmates scattering in the bullpen to avoid being beheaded by his vicious drive. The home run, his 14th against the Mets during his short career gave the Phillies a 4-0 lead.

Phillies starter Robert Person was cruising through the fourth inning, when he gave up an opposite-field double to Mike Piazza. Mo Vaughn then hit a single to right field that Jeremy Giambi overran, allowing Piazza, who had stopped at third, to score and make it 4-1.

The Phillies added a run when Mike Lieberthal hit a bases-loaded infield chopper that allowed Burrell, who had singled to start off the rally, to score. Mo Vaughn hit one of his patented titantic home runs in the sixth to make it 5-2.

The Phillies added three more runs in the seventh, all off of Bobby J. Jones, who had come into the game in the sixth. The score was now 8-2.

Piazza rescued the Mets from an embarrassing inning in the eighth. The Mets had loaded the bases with no outs, and had a very nervous rookie pitcher, Hector Mercado, who had come in for Person, pitching. Alomar, who reverted to his struggles batting from the right side of the plate, struck out, and Perez followed suit. Phillies manager Larry Bowa came out and took Mercado out and brought in Dave Coggin, a right-handed pitcher. Piazza singled up the middle to score two runs and make the score 8-4. Out came Bowa again, who brought in Dan Plesac, a hard-throwing lefty, to face Vaughn. Plesac, who is very tough on left-handed hitters, got Vaughn looking to end the inning.

Rolen hit a solo home run off of Grant Roberts in the eighth to make it 9-4.

Edgardo Alfonzo, who has been lacking power this year, led off the bottom of the eighth by hitting Rheal Cormier's first pitch deep to right-center for a solo home run and make the score 9-5.


-Even though Person, the Phillies starter, was a right-handed starter, Jeromy Burnitz sat for the second straight night. Timo Perez took his place in right. He pinch-hit for D'Amico in the fifth and singled.

-The Braves won, so the Mets saw themselves fall thirteen and a half game behind the Braves

-Four Mets had a multi-hit night: Piazza, Vaughn, Cedeno and Alfonzo.

-Saturday's starters will be Shawn Estes (3-7, 4.81 E.R.A.) and Vicente Padilla (10-5, 3.05 E.R.A.)

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