Besides pitching six strong innings, Leiter drove in the
go-ahead run with a fourth-inning single as the Mets beat the San Diego Padres 3-1 Thursday night. "All I can say is, I don't care how ugly it looks, I apparently
somehow get the job done," Leiter deadpanned.
A handful of teammates were riding him during batting practice,
including fellow starter Pedro Astacio. "They get on me all the time," Leiter said. "Well, heck, my
mom gets on me. Pedro in particular really enjoys my effort at the
plate. But the last time I checked, I have as many hits as him and
more RBI." That would be two hits and one RBI. Seriously, Leiter was pleased to get the game-winning hit, which
gave the Mets a 2-1 lead. With a career .095 average, he is one of
the worst hitting pitchers in the NL. "That's not going to come around too often," Leiter said. The Mets have won three straight since dropping eight of nine. The Padres, who put slugger Phil Nevin on the disabled list with
a sprained left elbow before the game, had their four-game winning
streak snapped. Leiter (5-2) allowed just an unearned run on seven hits to lower
his ERA in five road starts to 1.41. He struck out six and walked
two. He didn't have his best stuff, but the left-hander had enough to
get by. "I felt like I struggled enough to where it was a grind and I
had some tough at-bats," he said. "I didn't feel like I ever
really got an opportunity to use both sides of the plate." Manager Bobby Valentine thought Leiter was determined both
pitching and hitting. "He doesn't have the greatest swing in the world and he didn't
have the greatest stuff tonight, but he never buckled under,"
Valentine said. "He never gave up the at-bat and he never gave up
any of the pitches he threw." Leiter hit a two-out single off Brian Lawrence in the fourth. Jeromy Burnitz walked with one out, advanced on Timo Perez's
single and scored on Leiter's base hit to left. A throwing error by
left fielder Bubba Trammell allowed the runners to advance to
second and third, but Roger Cedeno grounded out to end the threat. Mark Guthrie pitched the ninth for his first save. The Mets made it 3-1 on Cedeno's double with two outs in the
ninth off reliever Tom Davey. Cedeno had three hits and two stolen
bases, and Edgardo Alfonzo also had three hits for New York. Lawrence (4-3) lost consecutive starts for the first time this
year, allowing two runs on eight hits in seven innings. He struck
out five and walked three. Mo Vaughn hit a two-out RBI single in the Mets' first, then
committed a throwing error in the bottom half to allow Trenidad
Hubbard to score the tying run. Hubbard, who had three hits,
singled and then gambled by taking third on D'Angelo Jimenez's
groundout to third. The throw from Vaughn, the first baseman, skipped past third
baseman Alfonzo as Hubbard slid in headfirst. He got up and easily
scored. "I thought we swung the bats well, we just didn't get a key
hit," Padres manager Bruce Bochy said. "They got three two-out
hits and we didn't get any." Alex Pelaez, who grew up in the San Diego area and played at San
Diego State, had an impressive big league debut for the Padres. He
started at first base in place of Nevin, who was placed on the DL
retroactive to Sunday. "I usually come here to watch games and now I was coming here
to play," he said. Pelaez made three outstanding defensive plays, including a
leaping grab of Roberto Alomar's line drive in the fifth and a
diving catch of Rey Ordonez's foul bunt in the ninth. "They just happened to hit them where I could catch them,"
Pelaez also got his first hit, a single to right in the fourth,
earning a congratulatory pat from Vaughn.
Mets reliever John Franco rejoined the team a day after
undergoing successful reconstructive surgery on his left elbow.
He'll travel with the team while rehabilitating the elbow. ...
Alomar made his first regular-season visit to San Diego since he
was traded from the Padres to the Toronto Blue Jays with Joe Carter
for Fred McGriff and Tony Fernandez on Dec. 5, 1990. ... Padres RHP
Kevin Pickford, who like Pelaez had his contract purchased from
Triple-A Portland earlier Thursday, made his big league debut when
he came on with two outs and a runner on second in the ninth. ...
Padres rookie 3B Sean Burroughs was back after missing seven starts
with a sore right shoulder.