Mets Bats Pummel Reds for Second Straight Night

As soon as the ball left Barry Larkin's bat, Armando Benitez whirled around to follow its arc, his breath surely being held. As soon as he saw that Jeromy Burnitz was going to be able to settle under it, he breathed a sigh of relief, for he shouldn't have even been in that situation, having made a very careless error, throwing away a ball hit back to him, a play that should have ended the game. Instead, he'd had to face Larkin and undoubtedly add a few gray hairs to Bobby Valentine's head.

Instead, Benitez held on to retire Larkin to preserve an 8-7 lead, in a game that saw the Mets continue their torrid hitting, with Mike Piazza, Mo Vaughn and Edgardo Alfonzo all hitting home runs. The continued offensive resurgence was enough to overcome the first subpar outing by rookie Mike Bacsik, who just did not seem to have much in his gas tank on Saturday night, giving up six runs in six innings. He did not get the decision, as David Weathers, who was part of four Mets relievers who pitched after him

After Roberto Alomar flied out to lead off the game, Burnitz hit an infield single and was safe at third after Reds third baseman Aaron Boone made an error on Piazza's fielder's choice ground ball, leaving runners on first and third with one out. Reds starter Chris Reitsma then left a fastball in Vaughn's "happy zone" and he murdered it, hitting a long three-run home run to right field to give the Mets a 3-0 lead in the first inning.

The Reds sensational 22-year old slugger, Adam Dunn, got two runs back for the Reds when he just hammered a Bacsik fast ball to right field for a two-run home run, scoring both him and Boone, who had doubled right before his at-bat.

Perhaps Bacsik was tired from throwing a complete game his previous start, because the Reds jumped all over him in the second inning, with Boone hitting his second double of the night with the bases loaded, clearing the bases and giving the Reds a 5-3 lead.

Piazza continued to just absolutely pummel the ball, hitting his 21st home run of the year in the third to make it 5-4.

Alfonzo made it nine straight games that he had driven in a run when he hit his fifth home run in a week to lead off the fourth inning to tie the game. After Jay Payton singled and advanced to third when Roger Cedeno also singled, the Reds proceeded to have a comedy of errors on Rey Ordonez's bunt attempt. The bunt was in between first and second, beyond the pitcher. Reitsma was late breaking for first, Reds second baseman thought Reds first baseman was going to just hold the ball, since it was a good bunt, but as Casey fielded the ball and turned to toss the ball to first, Walker belatedly realized Casey was going to make the play after all, and broke for first. Casey's toss sailed right by a vacant first base. Payton scored easily on the play, and Cedeno, seeing that the ball was rolling to the backstop along the first-base line, easily advanced to third. After Bacsik, who was supposed to be pinch-hit for and was left in the game after the Mets took the lead, laid down a sacrifice bunt allowing Cedeno to advance to second. Alomar fought off several tough pitches before hitting a sacrifice fly to left that was deep enough to score Cedeno and make the score 7-5.

The Reds made it 7-6 when they hit back-to-back doubles.

Vaughn drove in his fourth run of the night in the seventh when he singled to drive in Alomar, who had doubled earlier in the inning.

The Mets bullpen, consisting of Jaime Cerda, Mark Corey, David Weathers and Mark Guthrie shut the Reds down through the eighth, but when Armando Benitez came in to close out the game, he was greeted by Reggie Taylor, who led off the inning with a long home run to right to make it 8-7.

Notes

-Alfonzo's rbi streak is the second longest in Mets history, with Piazza having the longest, a 15-game streak in 2000

-Sunday's pitchers will be Al Leiter(9-7, 2.95 E.R.A.) and Elmer Dessens (6-5, 2.91 E.R.A.).



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