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Murphy says goodbye as Mets fall to Pirates

9/26/2003

NEW YORK (AP) -- Mike Piazza came out of the dugout for the ninth
inning, made a slight turn to his right and headed to first base.

As the fans cheered, a memorable night for the New York Mets
suddenly got even more special.

In their last scheduled home game of the season, the Mets lost
to the Pittsburgh Pirates 3-1 Thursday. But the night will be
remembered more for two milestone moments than the score.

Bob Murphy, a Hall of Fame broadcaster who has been with the
Mets since the team started play in 1962, was honored in a ceremony
at home plate before the game, his final scheduled night in the
announcing booth.

Piazza, the centerpiece of New York's roster in recent years,
played first base for the first time as a member of the Mets when
he moved from behind the plate in the ninth.

"I never really thought of it as any sort of event," Piazza
said. "It was just something to prepare for."

Piazza, who took grounders before the game, ran out from the
dugout to first base and received loud cheers when the position
switch was announced over the public address system at Shea
Stadium. Using one of Tony Clark's gloves, Piazza made all three
putouts in the inning, including catching a liner off the bat of
pinch-hitter Carlos Rivera.

"I don't remember much," Piazza said. "The ball was hit so
hard, and I was just trying to react."

The move to first has been talked about for months, and Piazza
played the position while rehabbing from a groin injury at Triple-A
Norfolk in August.

"I just figured if I was going to do it this year, I wanted our
fans to see it," Mets manager Art Howe said.

It was the first time Piazza played first in a major league game
since July 26, 1993, when he was with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

"I'm going to keep working at it and see where it fits in,"
Piazza said.

Howe was noncommittal when asked if he'd play Piazza at first
base at all the rest of the season.

"I haven't even thought about that," Howe said. "I just
wanted to get it over with in front of our fans. I think our fans
deserved to see it first."

As for the rest of the game, pinch-hitter Abraham Nunez hit a
sacrifice fly to drive in the go-ahead run for Pittsburgh, and
Salomon Torres pitched into the seventh.

Torres (7-5) rebounded after losing four of his previous five
decisions. He allowed four hits and one run in 6 2-3 innings for
his first road win since May 17 at Arizona. The Pirates snapped a
three-game losing streak.

"Tonight, the key was concentrating and keeping the ball down,
and it's an audition for next season," Torres said. "I think
tonight I made their decision on me for next season a little bit
harder."

Julian Tavarez pitched the ninth for his 10th save.

Jason Kendall hit two RBI singles for the Pirates, who ended the
Mets' two-game losing streak.

Mets starter Tom Glavine had a scare in the first inning when he
took a hard one-hopper hit by Jack Wilson right below his right
kneecap for a single. Glavine, surrounded by Howe, trainers and
teammates, limped back to the mound and took a few warmup tosses
before he determined he was able to continue.

He was also hit on the side of his left knee on an RBI single by
Kendall in the third. Glavine left after five innings with bruises
on both knees.

"They're sore," said Glavine, who had both knees wrapped after
the game. "After the first one, I thought, 'I don't need this.'
But you don't want to end your season like that."

Glavine had a familiar face at first base for part of this game.
Mike Glavine, Tom's younger brother, made his first major league
start. He went 0-for-2 with two groundouts to first before being
replaced by Clark in the sixth.

"It wasn't too special," Mike Glavine said. "It kind of
didn't go the way I planned."

Kendall gave the Pirates a 1-0 lead in the third on a two-out
RBI single off Glavine's left leg. The ball ricocheted into right
field, allowing Torres to score.

"Glavine's one of the best left-handers to toe the rubber,"
Kendall said. "You just have to go up there and try to have a good
at-bat."

Ty Wigginton tied it in the fifth with his 11th homer -- and
first since Aug. 22 at Los Angeles.

Nunez drove in the go-ahead run in the seventh with a pinch-hit
sacrifice fly off Jaime Cerda, who came in for Grant Roberts (0-3).
Pittsburgh took a 3-1 lead on Kendall's RBI single in the eighth.

"You want to win on a special night like tonight," Howe said.
"Torres was tough and their bullpen was good, too."

Game notes
The start of the game was delayed 34 minutes because of the
ceremony honoring Murphy. ... Roberts allowed one run, one hit and
walked one in 1 1-3 innings. ... Pirates OF Reggie Sanders has
missed seven games with a strained left oblique muscle, and
remained day to day.