NEW YORK (AP) -- With nothing to play for in October, the New York Mets are looking to finish the season with a strong September.
Mike Piazza hit a two-run homer to back Steve Trachsel's solid pitching and the Mets beat the Chicago Cubs 2-1 Wednesday night.After beginning the season with postseason expectations, the biggest goal left for the Mets is to finish in second place. New York trails Montreal by 3½ games."Obviously everyone wants to go into the offseason with a positive feeling,'' Piazza said. "We've all been frustrated at times this season. But guys still have pride and want to do well and finish strong.''The Mets won their fifth straight game at Shea Stadium since snapping an NL record 15-game home losing streak and took a 318-317 lead in the all-time series against Chicago.New York has won 11 of 16 games overall since ending the home
skid."We had a lousy month and now we're having a good month,'' Mets manager Bobby Valentine said. "We're playing good baseball. It's important. These are major league games and people are paying major league prices to see it.''Todd Hundley hit his 200th career homer and Kerry Wood (11-10)
reached 200 strikeouts for the second straight season for the Cubs,
who lost for the eighth time in 12 games.Chicago slugger Sammy Sosa went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and
remained three homers shy of 50 this season and 500 in his career.Trachsel (10-11) showed no ill effects from a sore right thumb
that forced him out of his previous start after only 2 1-3 innings
when he was hit on the thumb by a comebacker from Atlanta's Andruw
Jones.Trachsel allowed one run and three hits in seven innings to win
for the first time in three tries against his original team."When things are going good, you don't want it to end,'' said Trachsel, who has a 2.36 ERA in his last six starts. "You want to carry it over into the offseason.''The Mets, who lead the majors in errors, helped Trachsel out
with some good defense in the fifth inning. With a runner on second
and two outs, Corey Patterson hit a blooper into shallow left
field. Shortstop Rey Ordonez sprinted back and a diving grab to rob
Patterson of an RBI hit.Armando Benitez pitched the ninth for his 33rd save in 37
chances.The Mets went on top in the first when Roger Cedeno led off with
a double -- his seventh hit in 11 career at-bats against Wood.
Cedeno scored on Piazza's 31st homer, a first-pitch drive to
right-center.Hundley, who spent parts of nine seasons with the Mets, answered
with a solo homer with one out in the second. He has four homers in
21 career at-bats against Trachsel."I've been trying to get there for a while,'' Hundley said. "For it to come where I started was nice.''Neither team got a runner as far as third base the rest of the game.Wood was the victim of poor support again as the Cubs have scored just 21 runs in his 10 losses. He pitched a six-hitter for his second complete game of the year, striking out four to give him 200 on the season."When a guy only gives up two runs, you expect to win,'' Cubs
manager Bruce Kimm said. "We couldn't get going. We tried some
things -- some hit and runs and stealing -- but none of them
worked.''Wood, who has had four stints on the DL in his five-year career,
topped 200 innings for the first time in his career."That's the most important thing to me,'' he said. "I'm proud
of that and I can take that into the offseason. I've got two more
starts left and I can build on that.''
New York has a losing record against the other nine NL teams that played in the Mets' first season (1962). ... Hundley hit 124 of his home runs with the Mets. ... The Mets failed to get
successful sacrifices down twice. Trachsel bunted into a double
play in the fifth inning and Ordonez bunted into a forceout in the
seventh. ... Wood is the first Cub since Fergie Jenkins in 1967-71
to reach 200 strikeouts in consecutive seasons.