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Pirates' big eighth inning seals Mets' fate

9/25/2002

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- The New York Mets have known for some time
their $109 million payroll wouldn't buy them a spot in the postseason. Now they know it won't even get them a winning record.

Pinch-hitter Adrian Brown had a two-run single as the Pittsburgh
Pirates rallied for four runs in the eighth inning and beat the
Mets 6-3 Tuesday night.

The Mets dropped their 82nd game, assuring them of their first
losing season since 1996. It is manager Bobby Valentine's first
losing record in a full season since 1988 in Texas.

''It won't be a winning season this year,'' is all Valentine had
to say about the subject after the Pirates scored six runs in their
last two innings.

Valentine looked back on a game that seemed to slip away by
inches in the eighth. In the top of the inning, the Mets were in
position to pad their lead with runners at first and second and one
out.

Roberto Alomar boldly broke for third and was thrown out by
pitcher Scott Sauerbeck on a close play.

''It caught the umpire by surprise, I think,'' Valentine said.

Pittsburgh trailed 3-2 when Jason Kendall opened the eighth with
a single off Steve Reed. Mark Guthrie (5-3) came in to face Brian
Giles and gave up a single.

After reliever David Weathers got Aramis Ramirez to pop out,
Armando Rios singled to drive in the tying run. Kevin Young
intentionally walked and Abraham Nunez, batting for Tony Alvarez,
hit an RBI grounder that put the Pirates ahead.

Manager Lloyd McClendon sent up Nunez, who is just 5-for-41 as a
pinch-hitter, even though Alvarez, a September callup from
Double-A, was 2-for-3 in the game.

''I wanted a veteran up there against a good, right-handed
pitcher,'' McClendon said.

Brown, batting for Sauerbeck (5-4), lined a single that hit the
tip of shortstop Rey Ordonez's glove and slowed down in short
center field, allowing two runs to score.

''You hate to lose someone else's game,'' Weathers said. ''I
didn't make the pitches when I had to. After I got Ramirez out, I
thought I was going to get out of it. But Rios' ball found a hole
and it went downhill from there.''

Sauerbeck worked out of a jam in the eighth to get the win. He
came in with runners at first and second and one out.

Mike Williams pitched the ninth for his 45th save in 49
opportunities.

The Mets took a 1-0 lead in the second when Edgardo Alfonzo
walked, went to third on Jeromy Burnitz's single and scored when
Raul Gonzalez grounded out.

Burnitz led off the fourth with a fly ball toward the left field
line that Giles dropped for an error. Burnitz went to third on
Gonzalez's groundout and scored on Ordonez's squeeze bunt.

Timo Perez led off the sixth with a single, advanced on an
infield out and scored on Mike Piazza's single.

Pittsburgh scored twice in the seventh as Alvarez and
pinch-hitter Rob Mackowiak hit consecutive doubles. Pokey Reese
then hit Reed's first pitch for an RBI single.

Game notes
It was just the second time in Steve Trachsel's last six
starts for the Mets that he was charged with more than one earned
run. ... Piazza was 2-for-4 after going 2-for-10 in the first three
games against the Pirates this season. Entering the year, his
career average against Pittsburgh was .350. ... Mackowiak is
8-for-24 (.333) as a pinch-hitter with nine RBI.