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Burnitz sparks Mets' seven-run first inning

8/1/2002

NEW YORK (AP) -- The New York Mets didn't add any big bats from
outside the organization at the trade deadline.

The slumping Jeromy Burnitz provided his own boost instead.

Burnitz hit a three-run homer in a seven-run first inning to
help Shawn Estes snap a seven-start winless streak as the Mets beat
the Houston Astros 10-0 Wednesday night.

"We depend on him and we need him to be a big player,'' Mets
manager Bobby Valentine said about Burnitz, who entered the game in
a 2-for-35 slide that dropped his average to .203. "Today he was
aggressive and forgot about the mechanical stuff and just was
Jeromy.''

Hours after bolstering their pitching staff with two deals, the
Mets broke through for their biggest first inning since also
scoring seven on June 8, 1995, against San Francisco.

Mo Vaughn and Rey Ordonez had RBI doubles, Edgardo Alfonzo hit a
run-scoring single and Roberto Alomar's RBI triple with two outs
capped the outburst and ended the shortest start of Dave Mlicki's
career.

Every Mets position player either scored or drove in a run in
the inning, which came one night after a 16-3 loss to Houston.

"We were on such a high yesterday,'' Mlicki said. "To come out
here and do what I did was horrible.''

It was the biggest opening inning against the Astros since they
gave up 14 runs in an 18-2 loss at Cincinnati, on Aug. 3, 1989.

Ordonez added a three-run double in the second inning, matching
his career high with four RBI.

That was more than enough for Estes (4-8), who hadn't won since
beating Roger Clemens and the Yankees on June 15. Estes' struggles
contributed to the Mets' deadline deals, but he has pitched well of
late with a 1.35 ERA in his last three starts.

"I've been waiting for a nice roll all year,'' Estes said.
"I'm in that right now. It couldn't come at a better time. We need
good starting pitching right now that the hitting is coming
together.''

The Mets acquired starter John Thomson from Colorado and
reliever Steve Reed from San Diego earlier Wednesday as they tried
to upgrade their pitching staff for a possible playoff run.

New York, which has won 11 of 16, remained 4½ games behind wild
card leader Los Angeles. The Mets will need more big games from
Burnitz to make up that deficit over the final two months.

"Hopefully this is a stepping stone and I will continue to have
good at-bats,'' Burnitz said. "This team needs me to get to where
we want to go.''

The Astros had won five straight, outscoring the opposition 35-6
in the span. But Houston had no chance in this one and fell 5½
games behind the Dodgers.

After Mlicki struck out Alomar to open the game, Timo Perez
followed with a drive to right that Richard Hidalgo misplayed into
a triple.

After Mike Piazza walked, the next five Mets got hits. The big
blow coming from Burnitz.

With two on, Burnitz hit a drive to center field. Barry Wesson
initially broke in on the ball, but it carried over the fence for
Burnitz's fourth homer since May 3.

"Jeromy is a good player who hasn't played well,'' Valentine
said. "He has two months to redeem himself this season. I think he
can do it.''

Mlicki (3-7) gave up seven hits and seven runs, retiring only
two batters. The last time an Astro starter failed to make it out
of the first -- except for injuries and ejections -- was on April 14,
1994, when Pete Harnisch retired only two batters at Florida.

"It was just horrible -- probably the worst start of my
career,'' Mlicki said. "One guy after another kept hitting bad
pitches.''

Estes was efficient with the big lead, forcing the Astros to put
the ball in play. He allowed a pair of doubles in seven scoreless
innings.

He also got help from his defense when Alomar made a spectacular
diving stop at second base to throw out Jose Vizcaino to end the
second inning.

The only excitement after the early scoring came when Houston
reliever Jim Mann was ejected by plate umpire Larry Poncino for
hitting Ordonez with a pitch in the fifth inning.

"We weren't throwing at anybody,'' manager Jimy Williams said.
"We were down 10-0 and didn't want to put another guy on base.''

Game notes
Mlicki's previous shortest start was 1 1/3 innings on June
11, 2000, at St. Louis. ... The Mets traded OF Jay Payton, RHP Mark
Corey and minor leaguer Robert Stratton to Colorado for Thomson and
OF Mark Little. They sent LHP Bobby M. Jones and two minor leaguers
to the Padres for Reed and RHP Jason Middlebrook. ... LHP Mike
Bacsik finished the two-hitter and was sent back to Triple-A
Norfolk after the game. RHP Satoru Komiyama and INF Marco Scutaro
were also optioned to Norfolk.