NEW YORK (AP) -- While the Atlanta Braves are preparing for yet
another postseason run, the New York Mets are packed up for a long
Mike Piazza homered and drove in three runs as the Mets ended
their worst season in six years by avoiding a four-game sweep to
the Atlanta Braves, winning 6-1 Sunday. "We showed what we were capable of doing,'' Piazza said.
"Consistency eluded us, and we were unable to make a charge to the
postseason.'' The Mets (75-86) finished in last place for the first time since
1993 and had their most losses since going 71-91 in 1996. "A win is always a good thing, whether it's the last game of
the season or the first,'' manager Bobby Valentine said. "I'll
probably look back and try to find where the wins were that we
needed.'' Atlanta (101-58) already clinched its 11th straight division
title and will open the playoffs on Wednesday against San Francisco
at Turner Field. "They've been playing great,'' Braves manager Bobby Cox said.
"It's excitement. That's what you play for. This is when the fun
starts.'' The Braves were looking to sweep the Mets in a four-game series
for the first time since 1965 -- when they still played in Milwaukee
-- and in New York for the first time ever. Atlanta finished the season 12-7 against their NL East rivals,
equaling their most wins in a season against the Mets since 1968. Once again, both teams played this meaningless game as if it was
spring training, making liberal substitutions. The teams combined
to use 45 players -- tying the major league record for a nine-inning
game, set by Montreal and the Chicago Cubs on Sept. 5, 1978. "Everybody got their at-bats, everybody got their innings, and
we're ready to roll,'' Cox said. "We had a good day. We got beat,
but we had a good day.'' Mo Vaughn also homered for New York, and pinch-hitter Ty
Wigginton hit a two-run double. Steve Trachsel (11-11) allowed one run and six hits in five
innings to avoid a losing season for the first time since 1998,
when he went 15-8 for the Cubs. "Steve pitched well enough all year to get wins like this,''
Valentine said. "If we played better, he would have won 16, 17 or
18 games. He was that good.'' Trachsel, who had a 2.35 ERA over his last seven games, might
have been making his final start with the Mets. He's eligible for
free agency but has said he would like to stay in New York. "I'm happy with the way I finished the season,'' Trachsel said. Piazza got the Mets started with an RBI single in the first
inning off Jason Marquis. He added a two-run homer in the fifth off
Damian Moss to give him 98 RBI this season. Wigginton's two-run double came before Piazza's 33rd homer as
the Mets took advantage of first baseman Julio Franco's error to
score four unearned runs off Moss. Vaughn's 26th homer gave the Mets a 2-1 lead in the fourth
inning against Mike Remlinger (7-3).
The Braves used 24 players, the Mets 21. ... The Braves
last swept a four-game series in New York in 1956, when they beat
the Giants at the Polo Grounds. ... 2B Roberto Alomar's error in
the first inning was New York's major league-high 144th error. ...
Piazza has 336 homers as a catcher -- 15 short of Carlton Fisk's
major league record. ... Marquis, who won't be in the postseason
rotation, went 0-4 with a 9.12 ERA in his last seven starts.