Series: Game 2 of 3

Series tied 1-1 (as of 6/19)

Game 1: Tuesday, June 18
Minnesota 6Final
New York 1
Game 2: Wednesday, June 19
Minnesota 2Final
New York 4
Game 3: Thursday, June 20
Minnesota 2Final
New York 3

Twins 2

(40-31, 16-18 away)

Mets 4

(35-35, 17-15 home)

    7:10 PM ET, June 19, 2002

    Shea Stadium, Flushing, New York 

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    MIN 000010001 2 - -
    NYM 00002002 - 4 - -

    W: A. Leiter (7-6)

    L: M. Kinney (2-6)

    S: A. Benitez (16)

    Mets snap Twins' three-game win streak

    NEW YORK (AP) -- The New York Mets haven't scored many runs for Al Leiter, so he took care of the offense himself.

    Al Leiter

    Leiter pitched into the eighth inning and sparked a sluggish Mets lineup with two surprising hits, leading New York to a 4-2 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Wednesday night.

    One of the worst-hitting pitchers in the majors, Leiter went 2-for-3 with a key double to raise his career average to .095.

    "My hits come in bunches,'' he said.

    Tony Tarasco had a pinch-hit, two-run homer in the eighth, and Mike Piazza added an RBI single as the Mets snapped Minnesota's three-game winning streak.

    Leiter (7-6) also gave the Mets a gritty effort on the mound, allowing one run and five hits in 7 1/3 innings to improve to 6-0 lifetime against the Twins. He struck out eight and walked four in winning for only the second time in six decisions.

    The Mets have not scored more than four runs in any of Leiter's last six starts.

    "I would take a good-pitched game and a 'W' next to my name over two hits any day,'' he said.

    Scott Strickland relieved and retired Torii Hunter and Corey Koskie with a runner on second to preserve a one-run lead in the eighth.

    Armando Benitez worked the ninth for his 16th save in 18 chances. He allowed a pinch-hit, RBI single to A.J. Pierzynski with two outs.

    Matt Kinney (2-6) started for Minnesota in place of ex-Met Rick Reed, who was pushed back to Saturday at Philadelphia after cutting his right thumb on a suitcase. The 25-year-old right-hander gave up two runs and five hits in 4 1/3 innings.

    The Twins put a runner on in seven of the first eight innings, but Leiter worked out of trouble. He escaped major damage in the fifth, when singles by Doug Mientkiewicz and Brian Buchanan and a walk to Tom Prince loaded the bases with no outs.

    After Kinney flied out to shallow center, Leiter hit Luis Rivas with a pitch to force in a run. But the lefty got Cristian Guzman to ground into an inning-ending double play.

    "Mr. Leiter was pretty tough on us,'' Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Our right-handers, he just absolutely wears them out, cutting the fastball in there.''

    The Mets came right back in the bottom of the fifth, behind a big hit by Leiter. The pitcher bunted foul, then faked another bunt and lined a one-out double over Buchanan's head in right.

    "It's worked a few times,'' Leiter said. "After that I said, 'I'm going to pretend to do it again and whack it this time.' I think it messed up Kinney a little bit.''

    Roberto Alomar walked and Timo Perez blooped a single to center, loading the bases. Piazza drove in Leiter with a single that chased Kinney.

    Mo Vaughn hit a bouncer to second, and Piazza's hard slide helped keep shortstop Guzman from turning a double play. That allowed Alomar to score the go-ahead run and earned Piazza a nice ovation from the crowd of 26,967.

    Leiter also lined a single in the sixth. His two hits tied a career high done four times previously, the last on Sept. 29, 1999, against Atlanta.

    "I thought Al got lucky at first, but then I saw him hit that second one the other way, and look good doing it, and I said, `Man, this guy can hit,''' Hunter said. "We're going to have to break him off with curveballs or something next time, because he can hit.''

    Tarasco's homer off Mike Jackson was his first since Sept. 21, 1998, for Cincinnati against Philadelphia -- also as a pinch-hitter. That one came off Leiter's brother, Mark.

    "It's awesome. I couldn't sit down for a while,'' said Tarasco, who has bounced between the minors and the big leagues the last few years. "I knew when my last home run was. In the major leagues, it's something you don't forget.''

    Game notes

    Leiter's double was his first since Aug. 12, 1999, although he did hit a two-run triple against Florida in August 2001. ... Leiter earned his 12th interleague victory, tied with Minnesota's Brad Radke for second-most behind Greg Maddux's 14. ... Piazza, who has struggled mightily trying to throw out basestealers all season, nailed Guzman with a strong throw to second in the first inning. ... Mets LHP Shawn Estes said he has not received an official letter yet, but he knows his fine for throwing a pitch behind Yankees ace Roger Clemens is $750. Estes said he does not plan to appeal. "I want this thing to die, and the appeal process will just drag it out.'' ... Strickland has inherited 20 runners this season and allowed only one to score. ... The Mets have three pinch-hit homers this year. They had one all of last season.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press