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Mets win after NL-record 15 straight home losses

9/4/2002

NEW YORK (AP) -- At least the New York Mets got to go home as winners.

Pinch-hitter Mike Piazza hit a three-run homer and Mets ended their NL-record home losing streak at 15 by beating the Florida Marlins 11-5 in the second game of a doubleheader Tuesday night.

Raul Gonzalez homered and tied a career high with three hits as the Mets won for the first time at Shea Stadium since beating the Houston Astros 10-0 on July 31. Their 3-2 loss in 12 innings in the first game set the record for ineptitude at home, surpassing Boston's 14 in a row in 1911.

``I can't believe it's been a month,'' Mets manager Bobby
Valentine said. ``Hopefully we'll create havoc here before the
season ends.''

A host of low-paid players on the Mets $104-million payroll led New York to a five-run cushion before Piazza, who did not start the second game because of a sore left wrist, hit his 25th homer and fourth as a pinch-hitter in his career.

Pitcher Mike Bacsik got his first major league hit, a
run-scoring double in the first, Joe McEwing had two RBI and
September callup Jason Phillips drove in another as the Mets battered Justin Wayne in his major league debut.

The Mets ended a five-game losing skid overall and stopped the Marlins' five-game winning streak.

``Fortunately we were able to end this unfortunate streak,'' Piazza said. ``It's not really a cause for celebration, though.''

Bacsik (3-1) won for the first time in five starts, improving to 3-0 against the Marlins. He gave up five runs and 10 hits in 7 2/3 innings.

The Mets took the field for the second game to a chorus of boos that swelled after New York fell behind 2-0 on back-to-back homers by Derrek Lee and Mike Lowell to start the second inning.

``Johnny Franco sat me down after the second and told me these guys know me,'' said Bacsik, who faced the Marlins on Aug. 28 but did not get a decision. '``You're going to have to adjust and pitch' he said.''

The Mets quickly turned around the 21,007 fans -- less than 500 saw the start of the opener and just a few thousand saw the nightcap's finish -- by scoring three runs off Wayne (0-1) in the bottom of the second.

The inning could've turned out differently for Wayne, who failed to cover first on Mo Vaughn's grounder. Instead of a double play, the Mets ended up with a runner on first and one out.

``He wasn't real sharp and he cost himself three runs not covering first,'' Marlins manager Jeff Torborg said. ``He would have been out of the inning. That was a major mistake.''

Wayne then gave up a single to Gonzalez before Phillips hit a sacrifice fly and McEwing and Bacsik had consecutive doubles to put the Mets up 3-2.

``That was big-time,'' Bacsik said of his hit.

Roberto Alomar led off the third with his 11th homer of the season and Gonzalez, one of the players to be named in the Aug. 15th trade with Cincinnati for Shawn Estes, hit his third homer leading off the fourth to make it 5-2.

Wayne allowed seven hits and five runs in his first four innings in the big leagues.

In the opener, Preston Wilson hit a tying homer in the ninth and
Juan Encarnacion had an RBI double in the 12th inning.

Timo Perez's two-run homer in the third gave the Mets a 2-1 lead
that stood up going into the ninth, but closer Armando Benitez gave up Wilson's 21st homer this season -- and seventh against the Mets.

Wilson has 18 career homers and 44 RBI against New York, his
most against any team.

"This was his first organization, and usually his parents watch him here, so he likes coming here,'' Marlins manager Jeff Torborg said.

Benitez, who hasn't had a save at home since July 28 against
Cincinnati, blew his fourth in 33 opportunities. The last time he
had a save at home, the Mets were 54-50 and in second place.

Braden Looper (1-5) pitched the 11th for his first win since
June 18, 2001, at Atlanta.

Derrek Lee singled off Scott Strickland (6-9) to lead off the
12th, advanced on a wild pitch and took third as catcher Vance
Wilson's throw went into center field for an error. Encarnacion's
double sent the Marlins to their fifth straight win.

Carl Pavano allowed five hits in six innings, struck out three
and walked none.

John Thomson scattered five hits in seven innings. He retired 17 of 18 batters after Wilson singled with one out in the first.

Game notes
Piazza had two singles in the first game before coming out
for pinch-runner Esix Snead, who was making his major league debut.
In the opener, Marlins C Charles Johnson threw out his 17th runner
in 49 attempts. ... Lee extended his hitting streak to 11 games
with four hits in the two games. ... The Mets recalled INF Ty
Wigginton from Triple-A Norfolk. ... The Marlins called up Wayne
and INF-OF Brian Banks from Triple-A Calgary. Florida also recalled
RHP Gary Knotts, INF Pablo Ozuna and OF Abraham Nunez from Calgary.