Series: Game 1 of 3

New York leads 1-0 (as of 9/17)

Game 1: Tuesday, September 17
Chicago 1Final
New York 3
Game 2: Wednesday, September 18
Chicago 1Final
New York 2
Game 3: Thursday, September 19
Chicago 2Final
in 12
New York 3

Cubs 1

(64-87, 30-46 away)

Mets 3

(71-79, 34-38 home)

    7:10 PM ET, September 17, 2002

    Shea Stadium, Flushing, New York 

    123456789 R H E
    CHC 000100000 1 - -
    NYM 001000002 3 - -

    W: D. Weathers (6-3)

    L: J. Cruz (2-11)

    Sosa hits career HR No. 497 in defeat

    NEW YORK (AP) -- Jeromy Burnitz probably expected to be in a pennant race this September. Instead, he's just trying to salvage a lost season.


    Burnitz hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth inning to give the New York Mets a 3-1 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday night.

    Acquired in a trade with Milwaukee last winter, Burnitz is wrapping up a miserable year for himself and his team with a surprising surge. He's hitting .300 this month with seven home runs and 14 RBI.

    "He finally found that elusive stroke of his,'' Mets manager Bobby Valentine said. "He has his balance, his leg kick. I don't know why it's been such a long search.''

    Sammy Sosa hit his 497th career homer and 47th of the season for the Cubs in a matchup of two of baseball's most disappointing teams.

    Edgardo Alfonzo hit a one-out single off Juan Cruz (2-11) in the ninth, and Burnitz lifted a 3-2 pitch over the right-field fence for his 19th home run.

    Burnitz, who had four straight 30-homer seasons with the Brewers, is still batting only .220 with 53 RBI. But he's hit four long balls in his last three games.

    "Since this month started, I've definitely had some better at-bats,'' he said. "It's just come together the last two weeks. The fact is, my stroke was pretty much gone for most of the year.''

    Burnitz was mobbed by his teammates after rounding the bases.

    "To get beat up at home plate, that's a good feeling,'' he said.

    David Weathers (6-3) struck out Mark Bellhorn and Alex Gonzalez with two on to end the ninth.

    New York snapped a three-game losing skid and won its fourth in a row at Shea Stadium following an NL-record 15-game home losing streak.

    Sosa crushed Al Leiter's first pitch in the fourth an estimated 455 feet over the left-field bullpen, drawing cheers from a sparse crowd announced at 36,772. Many of those who showed up surely came to see Sosa, not the Mets.

    "It's great to be in that situation, no question about it,'' Sosa said. "I'm proud of everything I've accomplished and the way I play, and that's how you earn respect. New York is like a second home. I have a lot of friends here and a lot of people from my country that support me.''

    Three homers shy of 500 for his career and a record fifth 50-homer season, Sosa has gone deep in two straight games.

    "I really don't want to put myself thinking about that,'' Sosa said. "I'm not going to put pressure on myself.''

    Leiter gave up four hits in 8 1-3 innings, striking out eight. He has allowed just two runs in his last three starts, a span of 24 1/3 innings.

    Chicago's Alan Benes got himself in and out of major trouble in the third. He gave up a leadoff single to Rey Ordonez and walked Leiter, who was trying to bunt.

    Roger Cedeno did bunt, dropping a dandy up the third-base line for a hit that loaded the bases with nobody out. But Benes got Roberto Alomar to ground into a double play, scoring Ordonez, and retired Mike Piazza on a fly to center.

    Alomar also popped out with two on to end the fifth.

    After missing most of the last four years recovering from two shoulder operations, Benes made his fifth start since coming up from Triple-A Iowa on Aug. 23. He allowed only four hits in seven innings -- another strong effort as he tries to re-establish himself in the majors.

    "I think the thing that sticks out about Alan is, he knows how to pitch. He has a plan,'' catcher Joe Girardi said. "His arm's coming all the way back finally. Nobody wants to leave the game because of injuries. He's battled hard to get back. I'm happy for him.''

    Game notes

    The Mets made two errors, pushing their major league-leading total to 135. ... The Cubs and Mets, former NL East rivals, had not played since April 11 at Wrigley Field. ... Ordonez struck out swinging on a pitch clearly over his head in the seventh. ... Benes lasted seven innings for the third time in his last four outings. He made his first start against the Mets since May 10, 1997, in St. Louis. ... Corey Patterson made a sliding catch in shallow center to deny Cedeno a hit leading off the eighth. ... Esix Snead, who has 432 steals in five minor league seasons, entered as a pinch-runner in the eighth for the Mets and was caught stealing by Girardi.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press