Castro belts 3-run dinger in the eighth as Mets top Phils

NEW YORK (AP) -- The National League wild-card race got a little
tighter Tuesday night, thanks to the determination of the New York
Mets and fill-in catcher Ramon Castro.

Disgusted by his first two at-bats against Philadelphia, Castro
turned his night around with a pair of extra-base hits, fueling a
furious Mets comeback that resulted in a 6-4 victory and cost the
Phillies the outright lead in the NL wild-card chase.

Castro doubled and scored in the seventh inning and then hit a
three-run homer to put the Mets in front in the eighth. Braden
Looper's 28th save sealed the win and dropped the Phillies (70-62)
into a wild-card tie with the Florida Marlins, who beat St. Louis

The Mets and Houston Astros (both 69-62) are a half-game back.

"Playing from behind, winning games, that's good for us," said
Castro, who hit his sixth home run. "We always feel confident.
Playing from behind, that's a big part of the game."

Castro struck out and popped out in his first two swings against
starter Robinson Tejeda.

"I was a little down after those two at-bats," he said. "But
I thought, `I've got three more chances."

He only needed two.

With the Mets trailing 4-2, Castro opened the seventh with a
double and scored on a wild pitch by reliever Ryan Madson. That
made it 4-3 and put the Mets in striking distance when David Wright
opened the eighth with a walk against Ugueth Urbina (3-1).

Wright hustled down the line, as if he knew something good was
about to happen for the Mets.

"We have tremendous confidence in each other," he said.

After rookie Mike Jacobs struck out, Victor Diaz walked,
bringing up Castro.

"The first pitch, he showed me a fastball," Castro said. "I
was looking for something off-speed after that."

He hit a slider into the left-field seats, capping New York's

"They beat me," Urbina said. "They didn't beat anybody else.
They beat me. I made a mistake and they got me."

The Mets had trailed from the start after Kenny Lofton hit his
first home run since opening day and Pat Burrell added a two-run
shot in the first inning against Mets starter Jae Seo.

New York pecked away at the lead, as Carlos Beltran drove in a
pair of runs with his 14th home run and a fifth-inning single.

Castro took care of the rest of the comeback with his
seventh-inning double and eighth-inning homer, which set off a big
celebration. With Mets shortstop Jose Reyes jumping in front of the
dugout, Castro came out for a curtain call from the crowd of 36,505
that came to Shea Stadium for the Mets' return from a seven-game
road trip and their most meaningful late-season home game in
several years.

Juan Padilla (1-0) got the win.

After Seo needed 11 pitches to retire leadoff man Jimmy Rollins,
Lofton hit a 3-1 pitch for his second home run of the year. One out
later, Bobby Abreu singled ahead of Burrell's 27th homer.

It was Burrell's 29th career homer against the Mets, his fourth
this year and his 15th at Shea Stadium. He has more than twice as
many homers against the Mets and at Shea than against any other
opponent or in any other park.

Beltran got the Mets on the board in the bottom of the first
when he connected off Tejeda, who worked six innings.

Singles by Mike Lieberthal and Rollins sandwiched around a
sacrifice by Tejeda gave the Phillies a run in the second.

The Phillies could have added more in the fourth when Ryan
Howard and David Bell opened with singles and moved up on an
infield out. But Seo struck out Tejeda and retired Rollins on an
attempted bunt, stranding the runners.

In the fifth, Reyes singled, moved up on an infield out and
scored on Beltran's third hit of the game, making it 4-2.

Game notes
Injured Mets OF Mike Cameron presented the lineups in the
pregame meeting at home plate. ... Seo threw 36 pitches in the
first inning. ... Wright extended his hitting streak to 11 games.
... Burrell made a long run to rob Cliff Floyd of a hit in the
third inning. ... Phillies manager Charlie Manuel was thrown out of
the game in the fifth inning by home plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth
for arguing on a play at the plate. It was the fifth time Manuel
has been ejected this season and the second time by Culbreth.