NEW YORK (AP) -- The New York Mets' rally didn't fall short this
This is the eighth season in which Mike Piazza is a member of the Mets.
Mike Piazza homered twice and Edgardo Alfonzo hit a game-winning
single in the 12th inning as the Mets came back from a five-run
deficit to beat the Atlanta Braves 7-6 Monday night. New York rallied from a 7-0 deficit Saturday against Montreal
before losing 9-8 in 11 innings. The Mets completed the job this
time. "It's tough when you get down like that, especially against a
team like Atlanta," Piazza said. "But we've come back before and
we believe we're going to win these games." One day after Roberto Alomar homered twice with one of Piazza's
bats, the Mets slugger did the same. Piazza hit solo shots in the
second and seventh innings, and the Mets scored five runs in the
seventh to tie it at 6 on a home run by pinch-hitter John Valentin. New York won it in the 12th. Jay Payton, hitless in his first
five at-bats, singled with one out against Chris Hammond (0-1).
After a two-out walk to Piazza, Alfonzo hit a soft single to
right-center off Kevin Gryboski that scored Payton. The Mets poured out of the dugout to mob Alfonzo between first
and second base as New York fans did a mock tomahawk chop. "We play some good games against the Braves it seems," manager
Bobby Valentine said. "We know we can win ballgames no matter what
the score is." The Braves intentionally walked Alfonzo in the same situation in
the 10th inning to face Jeromy Burnitz. Hammond struck out Burnitz
to end the 10th but didn't get a chance to do it again. "As soon as he went to the umpire to make the double switch, I
knew this time they would pitch to me," Alfonzo said. "The guy
throws a great sinker. I just wanted to make something happen." Braves manager Bobby Cox considered walking Alfonzo again, but
decided against it because Hammond was tiring after throwing 47
pitches. "He had had enough," Cox said. "He was great. But you can't
expect anymore than he did. I briefly thought about it, but it
wasn't the move." Scott Strickland (1-1) pitched a perfect 12th inning, and the
Mets won for the fifth time in six games. New York relievers
combined for seven scoreless innings. Chipper Jones and Gary Sheffield each went 0-for-6 for the
Braves, who lost their third straight and fifth in seven games.
Andruw Jones had three hits, including a home run. Vinny Castilla
also homered for Atlanta. "I just felt like we were going to score in double digits
today," Sheffield said. "But we didn't capitalize early and they
capitalized late. We're just not hitting on all cylinders." Damian Moss took a 6-1 lead into the seventh inning and was in
line for his first career win before the Mets broke through for
five runs. Piazza led off with his second homer of the game and
Moss was knocked out after doubles by Alfonzo and Burnitz made it
6-3. Burnitz scored on Rey Ordonez's perfectly placed squeeze bunt
single off Darren Holmes. Mike Remlinger came in and allowed a
two-run homer to Valentin that tied the game and woke up a tame
crowd. Remlinger had held opponents hitless in 20 at-bats this year
before the homer. Valentin has struggled in his first two weeks with the Mets,
making three errors and hitting just .167 before the homer as he
adjusts to his role as a utility player. "It's not as easy as people think. I spent my whole career with
one team and now I'm playing on another team in a different role,"
said Valentin, who spent the first 10 years of his career with
Boston. "I'm just trying to fit in." The Braves entered the game 15th in the NL with a .223 batting
average but broke through for a five-run second inning against
Shawn Estes. Castilla led off with his third homer. With two outs and runners
on second and third, Rafael Furcal blooped a two-run single to left
in front of a slow-reacting Roger Cedeno. Andruw Jones followed
with his fourth homer to make it 5-0. After Piazza hit a solo shot in the bottom half for the Mets,
Atlanta added another run in the third on a sacrifice fly by Henry
"I think we felt like we deserved to win," Chipper Jones said.
"But they got hot in the seventh and their bullpen did a good job.
That sums it up."
Chipper Jones entered with a .363 career average against
the Mets. ... Piazza has 28 career multihomer games. ... Estes
allowed six runs and 10 hits in five innings. ... Moss allowed four
runs and six hits in six-plus innings. ... Ordonez, a three-time
Gold Glove winner at shortstop, made his eighth error of the
season. He went 100 games without an error in 1999 when he
committed only four all season.