Mets continue winning ways with rout of Expos


MONTREAL (AP) -- Jeromy Burnitz and the New York Mets haven't
written off a tough 2002 season just yet.

Burnitz homered twice and had three RBI and Mo Vaughn hit a
two-run homer as Jason Middlebrook won his New York debut in the
Mets' 8-2 victory over the Montreal Expos on Thursday night.

Burnitz, who is hitting .214 after going 2-for-4 in the game,
has five homers in his last eight games.

"It's been a rough year,'' Burnitz said. "I've been searching
ever since May hit, but here lately definitely I've had a little
bit more of a consistent approach and things are going better. I've
been working a lot and feeling a lot better.''

New York has won nine of 11 after losing 17 of 20.

A late addition to the starting lineup, Vaughn hit his 22nd
homer of the season off Tomo Ohka (13-8) following Roberto Alomar's
one-out single in the fourth to put the Mets up 3-0.

Vaughn, who had missed six straight starts because of a sprained
left wrist, was inserted into the cleanup spot when he pronounced
himself fit to play after taking batting practice before the game.

"I had a solid BP and was able to play today so I'm glad,''
Vaughn said. "I know what I'm doing out there. Five days off, you
can swing and do your drills and not lose too much.''

Burnitz hit his 16th homer following Edgardo Alfonzo's one-out
single in the seventh to chase Ohka.

Burnitz and Jason Phillips hit consecutive homers in the ninth
off reliever T.J. Tucker. It was Phillips' first career homer.

Middlebrook (2-3), acquired from San Diego on July 31, retired
15 straight in his Mets' debut after allowing Endy Chavez's leadoff
single and a walk to Jose Vidro in the first.

After both runners advanced when he balked with a 1-2 count on
Vladimir Guerrero, Middlebrook struck out the side to escape the

"It was a very impressive beginning,'' Mets manager Bobby
Valentine said.

Middlebrook walked Ohka to lead off the sixth and Chavez hit an
RBI triple to the right-field corner as Ohka scored Montreal's
first run. Vidro followed with a run-scoring single to chase
Middlebrook and draw Montreal within 3-2.

"I felt like I settled down once I got through the first,''
Middlebrook said. "I felt a little better in the second. The
third, fourth and fifth felt good and then I ran into a wall in the

Steve Reed relieved and got Vladimir Guerrero to hit a
double-play grounder to shortstop and Brad Wilkerson to ground to
second to hold the Mets' one-run lead.

The Mets scored three in the ninth on four straight one-out hits
off Tucker. Rey Ordonez doubled and scored on Brady Clark's
run-scoring double after the two homers.

Middlebrook allowed three hits and two runs in five-plus
innings. He walked two and struck out five.

"He did a good job of pitching tonight,'' Expos catcher Michael
Barrett said. "We're just struggling as a team right now
offensively so that was part of the reason for his success, but on
top of that he was keeping the ball down and using his breaking
ball really early in the game.''

Vaughn singled to lead off the second. He advanced to second on
Burnitz's one-out grounder to first and scored the Mets' first run
on Phillips' two-out RBI single to center.

Phillips was thrown out at second on catcher Michael Barrett's
relay to end the inning.

Ohka lost his second straight start after going 5-0 in his six
previous starts. He allowed six hits and five runs in 6 1/3

Game notes
Middlebrook was 1-3 with a 5.09 ERA in 12 games with the
Padres earlier this season. He was 4-6 with a 4.48 ERA in 15 games
in Triple-A, including a 2-1 record with a 2.66 ERA with the Mets'
Norfolk affiliate. ... Vaughn is 8-for-12 (.667) overall against
Ohka, including a double, three home runs and four RBI. ... The
Expos wore small Canadian flags on the left side of their caps for
the game in honor of Canadian victims of the Sept. 11, 2001,
terrorist attacks. According to the Canadian Press, 24 Canadians
were killed as a result of the attacks.