MONTREAL (AP) -- Eric Valent got a rare start for the Mets and
hit his way into New York's record books.
Valent became the eighth player in Mets history to hit for the
cycle, and Mike Cameron homered twice to lead New York to a 10-1
victory over the Montreal Expos on Thursday before a crowd of
20,042 -- the second-biggest at Olympic Stadium this season.
Valent went 4-for-4 with a walk and drove in three runs and
scored three times in becoming the fourth player in the majors this
season to hit a single, double, triple and home run in a game. He
joined Milwaukee's Chad Moeller, Pittsburgh's Daryle Ward and
Philadelphia's David Bell in accomplishing the feat.
"It's cool," Valent said. "It's tough to do. You need a lot
of luck. It's a nice thing you can say when you're done playing."
Valent played left field in place of Cliff Floyd, who got the
day off. He singled following Cameron's two-run homer off Rocky
Biddle in the second, and doubled after Cameron's solo shot put the
Mets up 5-0 in the third.
He tied his career high for hits with a two-run homer off a
speaker against Sun-Woo Kim in the fifth. Valent's RBI triple in
the seventh off Roy Corcoran completed the Mets' first cycle since
John Olerud did it on Sept. 11, 1997 -- also against the Expos.
"Eric Valent had a whale of a day," Mets manager Art Howe
said. "He hit for the cycle, not too many people can say that
they've done that."
Al Leiter (7-3) allowed three hits and one run in six innings,
improving to 6-1 in his last 10 starts. Leiter has a 2.18 ERA, and
1.00 in three starts against Montreal this season, allowing just
two runs in 18 innings.
Mike Piazza hit a two-run single in the second to cap a four-run
outburst, and Richard Hidalgo hit his 17th homer in the eighth off
Claudio Vargas as the Mets reached double digits in runs for the
second time in the series.
"What a good day for the Mets," Cameron said.
Despite the loss, the Expos split the four-game series to finish
a 5-2 homestand in front of the biggest crowd -- drawn by a discount
tickets and hot dogs promotion -- since 30,112 attended the team's
Montreal opener on April 23.
Biddle (2-5), who began the season as the Expos' closer, allowed
seven hits and five runs in three innings, his worst outing in four
starts since moving into the rotation.
"Disappointing -- that sums it up," Biddle said. "I was all
over the place today, couldn't find my location at all. I think I
was trying too hard to win the series. It backfired."
During batting practice, Cameron shook hands with an Expos fan
who heckled the Mets earlier in the series and bet him that he'd
homer in the game. In his first at-bat, Cameron followed Ty
Wigginton's leadoff single in the second with his third homer of
the series to put the Mets up 2-0.
As he returned to the dugout, Cameron pointed toward the fan,
who was wearing an Expos cap.
"He called Piazza a coward earlier," Cameron said. "Shows how
much of a man he is."
Leiter has the lowest ERA in the majors among pitchers with at
least 10 starts. He has given up one run or fewer in five of his
last six starts.
Valent is the third player to hit for the cycle against
Montreal, and the second this season. ... Mets 2B Jose Reyes didn't
start, and is day-to-day after spraining his right ankle in
Wednesday's 7-4 loss. ... Expos LF Brad Wilkerson didn't start
because of tightness in his right hamstring. He pinch hit in the
fifth and fouled out to Valent down the left-field line.