Sweet Revenge: Mo Comes Through In the Ninth

Mo Vaughn must have been itching to come to the plate in the ninth with the bases loaded. He'd had a prime chance to drive in runs in the seventh, with two men on. Bruce Chen had struck him out then and it surely must have stuck in his craw. So after Mike Piazza eked a two-out walk to load the bases, Vaughn came up to hit against John Riedling with the game tied 2-2, and promptly lined a single, his second of the night, to drive in the winning run as the Mets won 3-2 on a cool Friday night.

Although the Mets won, Pedro Astacio had another hard-luck outing, going seven innings and giving up two runs. He left with the score tied, and Mark Guthrie got the win. Reds starter Elmer Dessens also pitched well and did not get a decision either as Riedling got the loss.

The Mets got on the board in the first inning, but failed to capitalize on a bigger opportunity. Roberto Alomar led off the game with a single to left-center, the first of a 3-3 night, which saw his average rise to .282. Timo Perez then hit a ground ball to Reds first baseman Adam Dunn, who in his indecision about whether to throw to second for a force or go to first made him bobble the ball for an error. Mike Piazza followed with a walk and that brought Vaughn to the plate with no outs. He hit the ball hard the other way, but right at the one person who was still on the left side of the infield, third baseman Aaron Boone. Boone scooped up the ball and threw the ball to the plate where catcher Jason LaRue threw to first to double up Vaughn. Dessens then walked Edgardo Alfonzo to load the bases again and hit Jeromy Burnitz with a pitch to force in a run. 1-0 Mets.

In the fourth, the Mets pulled off an unusual play. With Jay Payton on first with one out and Astacio at the plate, Astacio squared around to bunt, but at the last second, Astacio pulled the bat back around and took a chopping swing at the ball, hitting a high chopper that bounced over the head of the charging Boone, and into left field. Smart baserunning by Payton enabled him to take third on the play. Alomar then hit a single in the hole between second and first, with Payton able to score easily. 2-0 Mets.

Poor defense cost the Mets in the sixth. With Boone on second and Ken Griffey on first, Austin Kearns singled to left. Timo Perez charged the ball and made what can be charitably called a horrible throw towards home plate. The ball wound up hitting the grass between the third baseline and home plate and bouncing crazily away from Astacio, who managed to deflect it to keep it from getting by him and into the Mets dugout. Piazza chased the ball down, and alertly threw to third base, where Griffey was attempting to advance, but the throw was too late. Juan Castro, who came into the game after Barry Larkin twisted his ankle, hit a sacrifice fly deep enough to score Griffey, and the score was tied 2-2.

A frightening moment occured in the eighth inning. Mark Guthrie, who had come in to relieve Astacio, had a pitch get away from him and hit Griffey in the head. The ball hit Griffey's helmet right at the edge, in between the earflap and the brim. The impact knocked the helmet off, and it sailed about five feet away. Griffey slumped to his knees, supporting himself by his elbows. After a moment, he stood up and stayed in the game, with the Shea crowd giving him a standing ovation. His helmet was chipped though. He was subsequently picked off by Guthrie, trying to steal, to end the inning.


-Roger Cedeno did not start again, as his hand was bothering him again. He pinch-hit in the seventh and grounded out to second.

-A couple of seldom-seen plays were enforced. First Jeromy Burnitz ran about 5 feet outside the baseline trying to break up a double play, resulting in both him and Payton to be called out to end the inning. In the ninth, Marcos Scutaro, who was trying to lay down a bunt, hit the catcher twice with his bat, resulting in the play being ruled dead.

-Sunday's starters will be the newly-resigned Al Leiter (9-8, 3.28 E.R.A.) and rookie knuckleballer Jared Fernandez (1-1, 4.58 E.R.A.)

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