Series: Game 3 of 3

New York won 2-1

Game 1: Friday, July 26
Cincinnati 2Final
New York 3
Game 2: Saturday, July 27
Cincinnati 2Final
in 11
New York 1
Game 3: Sunday, July 28
Cincinnati 5Final
New York 6

Reds 5

(54-50, 29-24 away)

Mets 6

(54-50, 29-22 home)

    1:10 PM ET, July 28, 2002

    Shea Stadium, Flushing, New York 

    123456789 R H E
    CIN 011200001 5 - -
    NYM 00001041 - 6 - -

    W: S. Trachsel (7-7)

    L: S. Williamson (2-3)

    S: A. Benitez (26)

    Valentin's two-run double sparks Mets' rally

    NEW YORK (AP) -- John Valentin has one of the toughest jobs in baseball, and he's getting very good at it.

    John Valentin

    Starting in place of an ailing Edgardo Alfonzo, Valentin hit a two-run double with two outs in the seventh inning to send the New York Mets past the Cincinnati Reds 6-5 Sunday.

    Signed as a free agent last winter, the 11-year veteran has 23 RBI in just 134 at-bats this season, many as a pinch-hitter.

    "John has made some of the best adjustments,'' Mets manager Bobby Valentine said. "He keeps himself ready to play. He has a regular program and sometimes even hits during the game to keep himself sharp. He savors these chances when he gets to start.'' Steve Trachsel got stronger over seven solid innings, and some shaky Cincinnati defense helped the Mets recover from a 4-0 deficit after four innings. New York took two of the three one-run games in a key series between playoff contenders.

    Ken Griffey Jr. homered for the Reds, who are tied with the Mets for third in the NL wild-card race -- within striking distance of Los Angeles.

    "That's what baseball is all about,'' Griffey said. "Two teams that never gave up. We just came up on the short end two days. We're in the middle of something that's exciting for everybody -- not just the guys in here but the fans, too.''

    Rey Ordonez started the go-ahead rally with a bunt single, and Reds left fielder Russell Branyan botched Timo Perez's RBI single for an error that left runners at second and third.

    Roberto Alomar scored on a passed ball to cut it to 4-3, and reliever Scott Williamson (2-3) walked Mo Vaughn intentionally.

    Valentin drove a 2-0 pitch off the left-field fence to cap a four-run rally and give New York a 5-4 lead. The long carom allowed the slow-footed Vaughn to score all the way from first, and Valentin clapped his hands and pumped his fist as he stood on second base.

    "I know my name is most likely not going to be in the lineup, so I take an approach that prepares me for a situation from the fifth inning on,'' Valentin said. "It's so different. I've gotten so used to coming in and getting that one at-bat, you have to adjust your thinking.''

    Reds manager Bob Boone was comfortable with his decision to walk Vaughn.

    "I would do that again, even though you're always leery of putting the go-ahead run on base,'' he said. "We got burned by it.''

    Roger Cedeno added his fourth home run of the season in the eighth, a 414-foot shot to center that made it 6-4.

    David Weathers got Austin Kearns to ground into a double play to end the eighth. Armando Benitez got three outs for his 26th save in 28 chances, allowing a leadoff homer to Russell Branyan in the ninth.

    Cedeno made a leaping catch of Brandon Larson's drive at the left-field wall one batter later to help preserve New York's 10th victory in 14 games.

    "It was a tough loss for us today, a really tough loss,'' Branyan said.

    Making his second start since coming off the disabled list, Trachsel (7-7) won for the first time since beating Atlanta on June 25. He gave up four runs -- three earned -- and six hits in seven innings, retiring 12 of his last 13 batters.

    Griffey hit a 2-2 pitch over the right-field fence leading off the second inning, just his third homer of the year and first since June 6. The 11-time All-Star has missed 79 starts this season because of knee and hamstring injuries.

    Jason LaRue reached on a throwing error by Valentin to start the third. Trachsel walked Aaron Boone with two outs to force a matchup with dangerous slugger Adam Dunn, who delivered an RBI single for a 2-0 lead.

    In the fourth, Branyan blooped a double down the left-field line to put runners at second and third before Larson looped a two-run single over first.

    "I felt much better today than the last time,'' Trachsel said. "I thought there was a little more life on the ball.''

    Piazza hit a sacrifice fly in the fifth for his 70th RBI. Cincinnati starter Jimmy Haynes allowed four runs and nine hits in 6 1/3 innings. He has not lost in eight starts since June 16 against Pittsburgh.

    Game notes

    Reds SS Barry Larkin did not play for the second straight day after injuring his lower right calf Friday. He is day to day, and expects to return to the lineup Tuesday against Los Angeles. ... Mets RF Jeromy Burnitz did not start because of a bad shin. He popped out as a pinch-hitter in the seventh and was booed by the crowd of 37,391. ... Alfonzo is bothered by a sore left shoulder. ... Perez drew his eighth walk in 80 games. ... Vaughn is 2-for-16 lifetime against Haynes with seven strikeouts. ... Trachsel improved to 7-3 career against Cincinnati.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press