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Mets win second straight at Shea in blowout fashion

9/4/2002

NEW YORK (AP) -- After a month of futility, the New York Mets are
playing so well they can hit pitchouts and hustle their way to
blowouts.

They've even put together a home streak that doesn't have
anything to do with losing.

Rey Ordonez slapped an intended pitchout for a go-ahead single
and Mike Piazza homered as the Mets beat the Florida Marlins 11-3
Wednesday night.

''Hey, that's my job -- I can't take a pitch on a squeeze,''
Ordonez said. ''I can't go back to the dugout like that.''

By the time he got back to the dugout, the Mets had a lead they
wouldn't lose and were on their way to winning consecutive games at
Shea Stadium for the first time since July 22-23. New York broke
its NL-record 15-game home losing streak Tuesday night in the
second game of a doubleheader.

It was 3-all in the fourth when singles by Jeromy Burnitz and
Roger Cedeno put runners at first and third.

The Mets called for a squeeze, and as Cedeno tried to steal
second, Burnitz pulled up as Florida catcher Charles Johnson popped
up for a pitchout. Julian Tavarez (10-11) delivered a slow pitch
high and outside that Ordonez, who started to square around,
slapped into shallow center field for an RBI single.

''I've never seen a bunt to center field that got a runner from
first to third,'' manager Bobby Valentine said. ''I've never seen
anything like that.''

The Mets showed that kind of savvy several times, turning tough
double plays, bunting and running the bases in Valentine's classic
style -- a style that, at times, the Mets haven't been executing the
last month.

Pedro Astacio (12-8) allowed three runs on six hits in six
innings for the win.

Mike Lowell had a home run, double and three RBIs for the
Marlins, who called the pitchout with a hunch Valentine was up to
something. Ordonez said he thought the pitch was just high and
inside, but Johnson gave it away and Tavarez confirmed the call.

''How many times does that happen?'' Tavarez said of Ordonez
hitting a pitchout. ''You trust yourself to throw a pitchout, and I
didn't. I have to say, everything went right for them, and I didn't
do my job.''

Piazza, playing with a sore left wrist wrapped tight, connected
for the second straight game. He hit his 26th home run of the
season in the first to put the Mets up 2-0.

''It's nice,'' said Piazza, who turned 34 Wednesday. ''We got
Pedro some runs, even after Lowell homered, and pulled it out. We
want to finish strong and play better.''

Mo Vaughn, who was 2-for-4 with a double, then singled and moved
to third on Edgardo Alfonzo's double off the center-field wall, and
scored on a groundout as the Mets gave Astacio a three-run lead.

But Lowell, in a 0-for-26 slump before homering Tuesday, hit his
18th homer to tie it in the second.

Vaughn turned a tough double play in the third, grabbing a
grounder from Andy Fox, wheeling and firing to Ordonez before
getting back to the bag and stretching for the shortstop's throw.
Ordonez had a couple of nice plays in the field, too.

In the sixth, Burnitz and Cedeno worked full counts into walks
and Ordonez sacrificed. Valentine then sent pinch-hitter John
Valentin to the plate for Astacio, and his first-pitch single to
center cleared the bases and chased Tavarez.

''I think we are capable of doing this,'' Valentine said.
''Those losses at home are some tough games -- we played a lot of
them close and came up short. Those were tough.''

Alfonzo and Burnitz hit back-to-back solo home runs in a
four-run seventh inning, giving both players 13 for the season.
Alfonzo also had a double and Burnitz added an infield single and
scored twice.

Ty Wigginton hit a home run in the Mets eighth, his third of the
year and the first of his career as a pinch-hitter.

Game notes
Mets 2B Roberto Alomar left the game in the sixth inning
with inflammation of his left knee and is day-to-day. ... Florida's
Kevin Millar extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a single
in the third inning. ... Rookie Esix Snead stole his first major
league base in the sixth inning after entering as a pinch-runner.
Snead was recalled Monday from Double-A Binghamton, where he stole
66 bases this season. ... Tavarez was previously 2-0 in three
starts against the Mets this season. ... Pedro Feliciano made his
debut for the Mets, closing with two scoreless innings.