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Mets explode in seventh to get past Indians

6/8/2002

CLEVELAND (AP) -- Mike Piazza has hit longer, higher and much
more dramatic home runs. This one, though, was in its own special
category.

''It was just a freak thing,'' Piazza said.

Piazza capped New York's seven-run rally in the seventh inning
with a three-run homer off Paul Shuey, and the Mets held on for an
8-6 win Saturday night over the Cleveland Indians.

Piazza, who didn't start behind the plate because he was still
feeling the effects of dehydration, connected for his 11th homer on
an 0-2 pitch in the seventh off Shuey, who hadn't given up a homer
in more than a year.

''He threw me a nasty curve, then a slider in the dirt,'' Piazza
said. ''I was just guessing. Trust me, I was just as surprised as
anybody. I said to myself, 'If he throws me a fastball, I'm not
going to miss it.'

''It was a prime example of why you get three strikes. I started
laughing a little bit.''

Cleveland's Omar Vizquel homered twice and had five RBI.

Edgardo Alfonzo hit a two-run single in the seventh for the
Mets, who weren't getting clutch hits before they came to Cleveland
and didn't have much success in the first six innings against Chuck
Finley (4-7).

''I didn't think we were going to get Finley,'' said Mets
manager Bobby Valentine, who used three pinch-hitters in the
seventh and lost his DH. ''I wanted to pull out all the stops. You
don't usually use your whole bench when you play an American League
game.''

Steve Trachsel (4-6) got the win, allowing three runs and five
hits in six innings. Armando Benitez worked the ninth for his 13th
save.

Trachsel was in line to take the loss before the Mets' outburst
in the seventh which began with New York loading the bases on two
singles and a walk off Finley.

''We had some big at-bats in that inning,'' Valentine said.
''Eight runs is a sight for sore eyes.''

Finley, who was facing the Mets for the first time in 504 career
appearances, was replaced by David Riske. Timo Perez's sacrifice
fly brought New York to 3-2.

One out later, Shuey came in and went to 3-0 before
intentionally walking pinch-hitter Jeromy Burnitz, who came in
batting .198 and was in a 2-for-22 slump.

''That was the biggest mistake,'' Shuey said.

Alfonzo then hit a grounder to right that got through, scoring
two to put New York ahead 4-3.

Roberto Alomar hit a chopper in front of the plate that wasn't
picked up by Shuey or catcher Einar Diaz, allowing Burnitz to score
and bringing up Piazza.

The Mets catcher started for the second straight game at DH
because he hadn't fully recovered from playing in the heat in
Atlanta on Thursday. But he guessed right on Shuey's third pitch
and muscled the chest-high fastball into the Mets' bullpen in
right.

Shuey hadn't given up a homer since May 11, 2001 -- a span of 56
consecutive appearances.

''That's where I wanted it to go,'' Shuey said. ''I thought he'd
take it or swing through it. But he's a different animal and he put
it out. I've seen him do it on TV before.''

Finley allowed four runs and seven hits in six-plus innings.

Alomar, playing his second game in Cleveland since being traded,
and shortstop Rey Ordonez turned a gorgeous double play in the
fifth.

Ordonez made a diving stop on Vizquel's hard grounder, and while
lying on his stomach, flipped the ball to Alomar, who made a
leaping return throw to get his former teammate.

The Indians a took 2-0 lead in the second on Vizquel's seventh
homer, a two-run, two-out shot.

Vizquel spent more time in the weight room this winter than ever
before in his career, adding 20 pounds of muscle and putting some
pop in his bat.

''When Omar gives us two homers in a game, it's a tough loss to
take,'' Indians manager Charlie Manuel said.

Game notes
Vizquel is just one homer away from matching his season
high of nine, set in 1996. ... Early-arriving fans watched Sarava
upset War Emblem to win the Belmont Stakes on the Jake's large
video screen in center field. ... RHP Jeremy Guthrie, drafted in
the first round (No. 22 overall) by the Indians, took a shutout
into the eighth on Friday as Stanford advanced to the College World
Series. ... The Indians have been outscored 49-13 in the seventh
inning. ... Finley needs five strikeouts to tie Hall of Famer
Christy Mathewson (2,502) for 23rd place on the career list.