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Mets lose cool, then game in Miami

6/2/2002

MIAMI (AP) -- The New York Mets lost two arguments, then lost the
game.

Catcher Mike Piazza and manager Bobby Valentine were ejected
just before Mike Lowell hit a tie-breaking homer in the seventh
inning, and the Florida Marlins beat the Mets 9-7 Saturday night.

The rhubarb and result gave a crowd of 33,291 plenty to cheer
and jeer about. It was the Marlins' largest crowd since they played
the New York Yankees last July 14.

"The fans got their money's worth tonight,'' Lowell said.

Preston Wilson hit two home runs to help Florida snap a
four-game losing streak, but it was the hot-tempered Mets who
created the most excitement.

Piazza, upset that he was called out on strikes in the top of
the seventh, renewed his complaint while catching in the bottom of
the inning. He protested when a pitch to Cliff Floyd was called a
ball and was thrown out by plate umpire Mark Wegner.

"Anything close and Piazza was going to give him hell,'' Floyd
said. "He let him have it. There was a lot of bleeping going on.''

Valentine ran into the field to separate a screaming Piazza from
Wegner, then began arguing with second-base umpire Ed Rapuano and
was also ejected.

"Rapuano bumped me, then he threw me out when I asked him,
`What'd you bump me for?''' Valentine said. "What is this, the
Gestapo? ... They'll write it up and they'll be angels. They're
always right.''

Valentine and Rapuano stood nose to nose shouting before the
Mets manager finally left the field, his face red with anger.

"That was a pretty good exchange,'' said Lowell, who watched
from the on-deck circle. "The last time I saw something like that,
I think it was either Billy Martin or Earl Weaver or one of those
old guys. You don't see that too often.''

Piazza said he became livid when he returned to the dugout after
being called out on strikes and saw a replay on a TV monitor that
showed the pitch four inches off the plate. Mets pitchers weren't
getting the same call, he said.

"I thought there was some inconsistency with the pitches, and
I'm sticking up for our pitchers,'' he said. "Obviously I was a
little heated.''

The umpires declined to comment.

After Floyd flied out, Lowell hit a solo homer off Satoru
Komiyama (0-2) for a 7-6 lead. Pinch-hitter Tim Raines delivered a
two-out, two-run single later in the inning.

Florida won despite blowing a 5-1 lead. Oswaldo Mairena (2-0)
pitched a perfect seventh, and Vladimir Nunez earned his 13th save
in 15 chances, giving up an RBI single to pinch-hitter John
Valentin.

The Marlins' Luis Castillo led off the first with a single,
extending his hitting streak to 20 games, the longest active streak
in the majors.

Wilson drove in three runs with a pair of two-out home runs,
giving him nine this season. He was hit in the arm by Komiyama
after Lowell's homer, prompting Wegner to warn both teams.

The Marlins had lost four consecutive home games and 13 of 18
overall.

The crowd was the Marlins' largest since they drew 39,585
against the New York Yankees last July 14. Florida's previous high
attendance this season was 23,877 for its home opener.

"You hear the people yelling at everybody and yelling at us,''
Wilson said. "It was great.''

An expected pitching duel between Jeff D'Amico and Ryan Dempster
failed to materialize and both left with the score 6-all. D'Amico,
who pitched seven shutout innings to beat Florida last Sunday, this
time lasted just 4 2-3 innings and gave up seven hits and six runs.
Dempster allowed eight hits and six runs in six innings.

Superstitious slugger Floyd had a new batting glove, new shoes
and a new bat, hoping to change Florida's luck, and in the first
inning he did.

Castillo and Andy Fox singled, and Floyd doubled them home with
a drive that hit the wall near the 434-foot sign. When shortstop
Rey Ordonez made a wild relay throw for his 11th error, Floyd
continued to third, and he scored on Lowell's groundout.

That meant a quick 3-0 lead for the Marlins, who have been
outscored 56-26 in the first inning.

Florida made it 5-1 in the third. Lowell walked with two out and
Wilson homered, snapping a 2-for-16 slump.

"That,'' said Lowell, "was an entertaining game.''

Game notes
Actor Matt Dillon read Lou Gehrig's famous farewell speech
before the game as part of baseball's Project ALS Day. ... Roger
Cedeno's triple was just the sixth for New York, fewest in the NL.