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Leiter wins in third straight strong outing

8/6/2003

HOUSTON (AP) -- Vance Wilson broke out of his slump in a big way.

Wilson's three-run homer keyed a seven-run fifth inning, and Al
Leiter had another strong outing as the New York Mets beat the
Houston Astros 10-1 Tuesday night.

Wilson entered the game in a 1-for-46 skid and flied out to
right in his first two at-bats. But he knew those swings felt
better.

"Those first two times were two good at-bats," Wilson said.
"I felt I was coming out of (the slump).

"Sometimes it just takes a while to get your head straight. It
was just one of those things where something mentally had gone
wrong when I was at the plate. I had some external distractions and
I just had to get out of that."

The three-run homer took care of it.

"There just comes a point when something clicks and you start
mentally seeing the ball," Wilson said. "To be able to come in
and contribute when I hadn't been able to for a couple of weeks
felt really good."

The Mets have scored 32 runs in their last three games,
including season highs for runs and hits (19) in a 13-5 victory
over St. Louis on Sunday.

"For the longest time, we scuffled at the plate," manager Art
Howe said. "Now everybody is contributing. Now we feel we can put
runs on the board because we've done it three straight games."

Tony Clark's home run, his third in two games, started it off in
the second inning.

"Not hitting is contagious and so is hitting," Clark said.
"When you have a group of young, talented guys like we have, you
go through stretches where the ball can't find a hole. But now
we're coming out of that and everyone is a part of it."

Leiter (11-5) allowed one run, five hits and four walks in six
innings, striking out six as he won his third decision in a row.

Astros starter Ron Villone (3-2) went four-plus innings and
allowed six runs on seven hits and a walk. He struck out five.

"They got outs and we didn't get outs," Houston manager Jimy
Williams said. "When you play 162 games, things like that are
going to happen. We haven't had many like that. I can't remember
the last one.

"Villone has pitched well for us. (Leiter) pitched an
outstanding game and their hitters hit the ball hard."

Villone went 3-1 with a 2.25 ERA in his first eight starts with
the Astros, and said he didn't feel much different this time.

"They hit a couple of pitches I left out over the middle,"
Villone said. "When I threw strikes, they hit them. When I was
down three runs, I still didn't feel too bad.

"I didn't feel like I did anything different tonight. I just
didn't get away with mistakes. Maybe I made more mistakes than
usual."

The Mets made it 3-0 in the third on consecutive doubles by
Roger Cedeno, Jose Reyes and Cliff Floyd.

New York broke it open in the fifth. Joe McEwing, Leiter and
Cedeno singled to make it 4-1 and chase Villone. Floyd hit a
sacrifice fly, Ty Wigginton had an RBI single and Raul Gonzalez
added an RBI groundout.

Wilson then connected for his eighth home run to left.

"That was the one that broke their backs," Howe said. "It
gave us a big sigh of relief. Hopefully, he's home free now and can
start breathing again."

Jeff Kent scored when the Mets botched a rundown in the third.
Kent was suspended for two games and fined earlier in the day as a
result of his argument with umpire Matt Hollowell during a game
against the Chicago Cubs on July 26.

Kent appealed the penalty, allowing him to play.

Game notes
Houston's Jose Vizcaino, on the disabled list since June 25
with a broken forearm, took 150 swings during batting practice.
Club officials still don't know how long it will be before he is
ready to go on a minor league rehab assignment. ... With 98 steals,
Cedeno needs two to move into eighth place on the Mets' career
list. ... Clark's home run was the first to hit the large 2004
All-Star game sign high in left field. It was unveiled two weeks
ago. ... Leiter got his first hit in 32 at-bats this season when
his grounder up the middle hit second base and bounded away from
shortstop Adam Everett in the fifth inning. Leiter's last hit came
Sept. 22 last season. ... The Mets purchased the contract of
catcher Joe Depastino from Triple-A Norfolk and he grounded out in
his first major league at-bat. Depastino, 29, began his
professional career in 1992.