Hampton struggles vs. Mets rookie Seo


NEW YORK (AP) -- Jae Seo is making a believer out of Art Howe.

Seo pitched into the ninth inning to win for the first time in
more than six weeks and Tsuyoshi Shinjo hit a two-run double to
lead the New York Mets to a 4-2 victory Saturday over the Atlanta

"To be honest, I didn't think Jae Seo had a shot to make the
club when we went to spring training," said Howe, New York's
first-year manager. "I didn't know who he was. The first time I
saw him throw I liked what I saw. It was just a matter of him
gaining strength."

Seo's career was slowed by reconstructive elbow surgery that
forced him to miss almost two years.

He worked his way back gradually the past two years in the
minors before making the club this spring -- much to his own

"Coming into spring training my initial goal with new coaches
and a manager was to make a strong impression whether I made the
team or went to Norfolk," he said through an interpreter. "I was
expecting to go to Norfolk to start the season."

Instead, he's been New York's steadiest starter despite having
only two wins to show for it. Seo has a 2.74 ERA in his 10 starts.

"He's a good pitcher," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "He
pitched against us down home and he looked the same to me. He's
sneaky fast, changes speeds and moves the ball around. He know what
he's doing."

Seo (2-2) got a no-decision last Sunday despite holding the NL's
top-scoring team to one run in seven innings.

Seo allowed two runs and six hits this time, leaving following
Chipper Jones' leadoff double in the ninth.

"He didn't invent any new pitches," catcher Jason Phillips
said. "For him to go back out there against them and do well again
shows what kind of stuff he has."

Jones jammed his left wrist on the play and left the game. He
will be re-examined Sunday.

Armando Benitez finished for his 16th save in 20 chances,
allowing singles to the first two batters he faced to make it 4-2.

Left fielder Raul Gonzalez made a running grab of Vinny
Castilla's liner for the first out and then nearly doubled Andruw
Jones off second on Henry Blanco's flyout. Benitez struck out
pinch-hitter Matt Franco to end it.

Seo walked one and struck out none to snap a six-start winless
streak on a rainy day at Shea Stadium. He lost twice and had four
no-decisions since beating Pittsburgh 7-2 for his first career win
on April 17.

The Mets also kept the Braves in the ballpark, preventing
Atlanta from breaking the NL record for homers in a month. The
Braves' 55 home runs in May tied the New York Giants (July 1947)
and St. Louis Cardinals (April 2000) for most in any month.

The Mets had their former ace Mike Hampton (2-3) in constant
trouble. New York put the leadoff man on base in each of the first
five innings and had a runner in scoring position in each of those

But New York didn't have much to show for it early. Chipper
Jones threw out McEwing at the plate with a perfect one-hop throw
from left field after Ty Wigginton's single in the first.

New York loaded the loaded and no outs in the third for
Phillips, with help from an error by Castilla at third.

Hampton then started a 1-2-3 double play, but he couldn't escape
unscathed because Shinjo doubled to give the Mets a 2-1 lead.

"That was a big hit right there," Phillips said. "It really
picked us up. As bad as everything was going to that point we were
still up 2-1."

New York added two runs in the fifth thanks to Hampton's control
problems. Hampton walked three batters in the inning and threw a
run-scoring wild pitch to allow Wigginton to score.

"I was just trying to get the ball down and not make a mistake
up," Hampton said.

Rey Sanchez added an RBI double to make it 4-1.

Hampton allowed four runs -- two earned -- and eight hits in six
innings and was booed once again in New York.

Hampton won 15 games in 2000 for the Mets, winning the NL
championship series MVP and helping the team reach its first World
Series since 1986. But he never took to big-city life and left as a
free agent after the season.

"I expected it," he said. "It's their right. It's their
prerogative. I don't think it's a matter of them forgetting what I
did here. I think its a matter of pitching against their team."

Robert Fick's RBI single gave Atlanta a 1-0 lead in the second.

Game notes
Seo has allowed three or fewer earned runs in nine of 10
starts. ... The major league record for homers in a month is 58,
held by Baltimore (May 1987) and Seattle (May 1999). ... Atlanta C
Javy Lopez didn't start because a slightly strained right