NEW YORK (AP) -- All winter long, Pokey Reese did nothing but
hit. He practiced going with the pitch, going the other way, trying
to forget about muscling up.
"I've changed this year," the Pittsburgh second baseman said.
"I've cut down my swing."
Mo Vaughn connects for his 300th career homer on Wednesday.
The strategy paid quick dividends against the New York Mets on
Wednesday. Reese had three hits and drove in three runs, two after
a rare error by Gold Glove second baseman Roberto Alomar as the
Pirates defeated the Mets 5-3.As a second baseman, Reese appreciates Alomar's resume -- 10 Gold
Gloves and just five errors at Cleveland last season. "You don't
see him make many errors," Reese said. "You've got to take
advantage."When Alomar booted a grounder by Rob Mackowiak with one out in
the sixth inning, It gave Pittsburgh an unexpected runner."It was an in-between hop," Alomar said. "I was trying to
block it. I did block it. But it rolled so far away that by the
time I picked it up I couldn't throw to first in time."Kevin Young followed with a single and, after the runners
advanced on a grounder, Reese came to the plate with two outs. He
thought the Mets might walk him to get to pitcher Kip Wells. He was
grateful when they did not."The last couple of years I haven't done anything in that
situation," Reese said. "I was hoping they'd pitch to me, come
after me in that situation."Manager Bobby Valentine said the pitch from Steve Trachsel was
the one the Mets wanted Reese to hit. "He popped it into right
field. He went with it," Valentine said.Reese's hit put Pittsburgh in front 3-2 and manager Lloyd
McClendon used a parade of five relievers through the last four
innings to nail down the victory."We've got to play a near-perfect game against a team like the
Mets," McClendon said. "We executed well, ran the bases well and
got some good pitching."And the secret weapon turned out to be Reese, who was passed off
from Cincinnati to Colorado to Boston inside of three days last
December and wound up signing as a free agent with Pittsburgh at
the end of January."It was an interesting winter," Reese said. "Seemed like a
new team every day."Salary demands kept Reese on the run but he's happy with how it
all turned out. "I'm happy with where I'm at," he said. "We
don't have the big boppers those other guys do. "We've got to do
the little things, play the game hard every day and believe in each
other in this clubhouse."Mo Vaughn hit his 300th career home run, his first in the
National League, but Alomar's misplay set up Pittsburgh's go-ahead
rally.Alomar scored the game's first run after singling in the first
inning against winner Kip Wells. Mike Piazza walked with two outs
and Edgardo Alfonzo singled Alomar home.The Pirates tied it in the second against Trachsel on
consecutive singles by Young, Mike Benjamin and Reese.Vaughn, hitless in his first six at-bats this season, put the
Mets back in front with two out in the third on his milestone home
run, a 411-foot shot to right-center field."Three hundred?" said Vaughn, who sat out last season with a
torns biceps. "It's not 500."He said he would give the ball to Valentine, who lobbied to get
him to New York over the winter.Alomar beat out a bunt to start the Mets sixth, and that
finished Wells. Left-hander Joe Beimel came in to strike out Vaughn
on three pitches and Brian Boehringer got Piazza to hit into an
inning-ending double play.The Pirates added a run in the seventh when Kendall doubled and
scored on a two-out single by Aramis Ramirez.Vaughn's two-out single in the eighth drove in John Valentin,
who had pinch hit and walked, advancing on a pair of groundouts.
Mike Fetters relieved and Piazza singled, sending pinch runner Gary Matthews to third with the potential tying run. But Fetters got
Alfonzo on a long flyout.Ramirez added a sacrifice fly in the ninth off David Weathers
after Kendall singled and stole second. Mike Williams pitched a
1-2-3 ninth for the save.
Mets reliever John Franco had a cortisone injection in his
left elbow and will not throw for three days. Franco had surgery on
the elbow during the winter, experienced discomfort in it during
spring training and opened the season on the disabled list. ...
Pirates OF Brian Giles, who pulled a muscle in his right side
during batting practice on opening day, sat out his second straight
game. He is day to day. ... The Mets will make a player move before
Thursday's game to clear room on their 25-man roster for OF McKay Christensen, claimed on waivers from Los Angeles. Christensen is
out of options.