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Piazza ends home run drought in seventh

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Led by two struggling stars, the New York
Mets broke out of their offensive funk.

Mike Piazza ended the longest home run drought of his career,
Carlos Beltran hit a three-run shot and New York avoided a
three-game sweep with a 9-6 victory over the Oakland Athletics on
Thursday.

Beltran's eighth homer, a long drive to right in the fifth that
put the Mets ahead, was his first for New York in a game not
started by Pedro Martinez.

Piazza hadn't homered since May 9 at Wrigley Field, a stretch of
98 at-bats without going deep, according to the Elias Sports
Bureau.

"It's been a while. I felt like I've been swinging the bat
better the last 30 or 40 at-bats or so, but I'm still not driving
the ball as well as I can," Piazza said. "Carlos came up with a
big home run. That kind of got us going."

Willie Randolph is a man of intuition, and everything told the
Mets' manager that a couple tweaks to the lineup might be all it
would take to get his team's offense back on track. He moved David
Wright to the second spot for the first time this season, and
Wright delivered an RBI single before Beltran's homer.

"I'm a vibe person," Randolph said. "You might think I'm
crazy, but when I get a feeling about something it usually works."

Ramon Castro had a two-run double and matched his career high
with three RBI, and Kris Benson (5-2) pitched six solid innings to
win his second straight decision despite giving up two home runs in
a game played in a steady drizzle.

This was a key victory for the Mets, who have been struggling to
score and were in need of a lift as they concluded the first series
of their season-long 12-game road trip. They had one hit through
the first four innings, then the first six batters got hits in the
fifth.

New York had lost three in a row and six of seven and hadn't
scored more than three runs in any of the defeats. The Mets scored
more runs in their seven-run fifth than they had in their previous
three games.

Braden Looper pitched the ninth for his 13th save in 15 chances,
getting Bobby Crosby to ground into a game-ending double play.
Jason Kendall slid hard into second baseman Kaz Matsui, who stayed
down briefly before limping off the field.

Matsui had ice on his left knee afterward, but said he would try
to play Friday. Neither he nor Randolph accused Kendall of a dirty
slide.

"I didn't do anything wrong," Kendall said. "He didn't get
out of the way."

Nick Swisher hit a two-run homer and Mark Kotsay also connected
for the A's, who had won three straight and nine of 10 at home.
Every A's starter had a hit.

Oakland made it interesting with three runs in the eighth off
Danny Graves. Bobby Kielty and Swisher each had an RBI single, and
Keith Ginter doubled in a run.

After Swisher's second-inning homer, Benson allowed back-to-back
singles before retiring 13 of his final 16 batters.

Beltran's homer chased A's starter Ryan Glynn (0-3), and
reliever Juan Cruz gave up consecutive singles to Cliff Floyd and
Piazza. Castro hit his two-run double three batters later.

Piazza led off the seventh with a shot to left-center, giving
him 385 homers to tie Dwight Evans for 47th place on the career
list.

Glynn made his third start of the season after being called up
June 3. He might be the odd man out upon the return of Rich Harden,
who will make a rehab start at Triple-A Sacramento on Friday as the
final step in his recovery from a strained stomach muscle.

Brian Daubach started at first base for New York, drew three
walks and scored twice, one day after being called up from Triple-A
Norfolk when Miguel Cairo went on the disabled list with a
hamstring injury.

Daubach was drafted by the Mets in the 17th round in 1990, but
this was his first big league game for the club.

"It's about time," he said, still carrying a Norfolk Tides
duffel bag. "I signed with the Mets and it took me 15 years."

Game notes
Mets OF Mike Cameron was given another day off to allow the
swelling in his right knee to subside. Cameron hopes to play
sometime this weekend against his former team in Seattle. ... A's
DH Erubiel Durazo, on the DL with tendinitis in his left elbow,
flew to Los Angeles to be examined by Angels' team doctor Lewis
Yocum. ... The Mets signed C Benito Santiago to a minor league
contract and agreed to terms with RHP Kyle Risinger and assigned
him to Class-A Brooklyn of the New York-Penn League.