Series: Game 1 of 4

NY Mets leads 1-0 (as of 4/20)

Game 1: Thursday, April 20
NY Mets7Final
San Diego2
Game 2: Friday, April 21
NY Mets1Final
in 14
San Diego2
Game 3: Saturday, April 22
NY Mets8Final
San Diego1
Game 4: Sunday, April 23
NY Mets4Final
San Diego7

Mets 7

(11-4, 4-0 away)

Padres 2

(6-9, 1-5 home)

    10:05 PM ET, April 20, 2006

    Petco Park, San Diego, California 

    123456789 R H E
    NYM 001000060 7 12 0
    SD 101000000 2 7 0

    W: D. Sanchez (1-0)

    L: S. Linebrink (1-2)

    Franco becomes oldest to hit home run, lifts Mets 

    SAN DIEGO (AP) -- Julio Franco doesn't intend to slow down any time soon.

    Franco became the oldest player in major league history to hit a home run when he connected for a two-run, pinch-hit shot in the eighth inning Thursday night to help the New York Mets rally for a 7-2 win over the San Diego Padres.

    Franco, 47, drove a 1-0 pitch from reliever Scott Linebrink (1-2) into the home-run porch down the right-field line at Petco Park. That gave the Mets a 3-2 lead and Franco the spot in the record book that had been belonged to Athletics pitcher Jack Quinn, who was 46 years, 357 days old when he homered on June 27, 1930.

    Franco already was the oldest player to hit a grand slam, a pinch-hit homer and have a multihomer game.

    "That won't be the last home run I hit, and I hope I hit one when I'm 50," said Franco, who has four career pinch-hit homers.

    He wasn't joking.

    "Why not? They signed me here for two years," said Franco, who turns 48 on Aug. 23. "God gave me the great gift to play the game of baseball, and I want to play until I'm 50. If He gives me two more years, don't you think He's going to give me another one?"

    If Franco lasts that long, he'll turn 50 during the 2008 season.

    The fan who ended up with the ball gave it to Franco in exchange for a bat. Anticipating a call from the Hall of Fame, Franco said he'd send either the ball or the bat, but not both.

    The Mets had as many hits in the six-run eighth as they did in their previous two games, when they were the victims of consecutive three-hitters by the Atlanta Braves.

    Franco, in his 29th season in pro ball, signed with the Mets as a free agent on Dec. 9. The oldest player in the majors, his one-out homer came with former Padres player Xavier Nady aboard on a leadoff double.

    "Losing those two games in a row, Peavy was throwing a great game," Franco said, referring to Padres ace Jake Peavy, who left with a 2-1 lead after seven. "We lost 2-1 yesterday, and it wouldn't be good to lose 2-1 today. It makes it more of an accomplishment."

    Kazuo Matsui hit another notable homer for the Mets. His inside-the-park homer leading off the third made this the third straight year he's homered in his first at-bat of the season. The last player to do that was Ken Griffey Jr. from 1997-99, while with Seattle.

    Old Man, Look At My Life
    On Thursday, Julio Franco broke a record for the oldest player to hit a home run. That record was held for 76 years by pitcher Jack Quinn, who hit 8 home runs in a 23-year career.
    Jack Quinn Julio Franco
    Debut 1909, Yankees 1982, Phillies
    Last season 1933 ???
    Teams 8 (Yankees twice) 8 (Indians twice)
    Postseason 0-1 in 3 World Series starts (8.44 ERA) .234 in 7 playoff series (22-94)
    Career highlight NL saves leader, 1931 (15), 1932 (8) AL batting champ, 1991, .341
    Late-career best 18-7, 2.90 ERA, 1928 .309, 99 hits, 2004

    "I'm having difficulty trying to get a grasp of it," Matsui said through an interpreter. "Today was an inside-the-parker. I can't believe it myself."

    Matsui was activated from the 15-day disabled list before the game. He opened the season on the DL with a sprained ligament in his right knee.

    Matsui hit a fly ball off Peavy that glanced off the glove of retreating right fielder Brian Giles, bounced off a sign on the fence and rolled along the fence toward the right-center gap.

    Matsui raced around the bases and arrived at the plate at the same time as the relay throw, but catcher Mike Piazza couldn't hold onto the ball.

    It was Matsui's first career inside-the-park homer, and the first by a Mets player since Marlon Anderson did it against the Los Angeles Angels last June 11.

    After Franco's homer, the Mets piled it on with Carlos Delgado's two-run homer, his sixth, and RBI singles by Endy Chavez and Cliff Floyd.

    As a rookie in 2004, Matsui became the second player in big league history to hit his first home run in his first at-bat while leading off a game to start a season.

    San Diego came back in the bottom of the inning to go ahead 2-1 on Dave Roberts' single off Steve Trachsel. Roberts' second straight hit scored Ben Johnson, who had a leadoff single and advanced on Peavy's groundout.

    San Diego chased Trachsel in the process of loading the bases with none out in the seventh, but failed to score. Pinch-hitter Eric Young hit into an inning-ending double play off Duaner Sanchez (1-0), the third Mets reliever of the inning.

    Peavy was hit on the right shin by a comebacker by Trachsel in the third but stayed in the game. Peavy struck out five in seven innings, allowing four hits and one run. Trachsel allowed two runs and six hits in six innings, struck out three and walked two.

    Peavy had X-rays after the game, which didn't show a break. The training staff put a compress on the shin during the game.

    Trachsel "was coming to get me," Peavy said. "He hurt me there."

    Game notes

    Mets CF Carlos Beltran returned to the lineup after missing the last four games with a strained right hamstring, but felt discomfort and left the game after the fourth inning. He said he'll have an MRI on Friday. ... Floyd played for the first time since leaving Monday's game against Atlanta with a strained rib cage. ... Piazza faced the Mets for the first time since leaving New York as a free agent in the offseason. He played with the Mets for 7½ seasons. ... Another former Mets player, Padres CF Mike Cameron, began a rehab assignment on Thursday night with Class A Lake Elsinore and could be activated during this four-game series. Cameron started the season on the DL with a strained muscle in his side. Traded from New York to San Diego for Nady in the offseason, Cameron hasn't played since being injured in a face-to-face collision with Beltran in the outfield at Petco Park on Aug. 11.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press