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Piazza's 327th HR equals Bench mark

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Mike Piazza knows what it means to have his
name mentioned with Johnny Bench.

Piazza hit his 327th home run as a catcher, tying Bench for second-most at the position, and the New York Mets beat the Milwaukee Brewers 5-1 Tuesday night to stop a five-game losing streak.

"Obviously, to be in the same sentence as Johnny Bench, for a catcher it's definitely an honor,'' Piazza said. "He's the barometer by which all catchers are measured.''

Pedro Astacio (11-4) pitched a three-hitter for his third
complete game in 22 starts this season and the 30th of his career.
He struck out a season-high 10 and walked three.

"He has 11 wins and he could have a lot more,'' New York manager Bobby Valentine said. "He's pitched consistent baseball all year.''

Piazza's two-run homer in the first inning was his 23rd of the
season. The only player to hit more career home runs as a catcher
was Carlton Fisk (351).

"It's hard to stop him,'' Milwaukee manager Jerry Royster said.
"He got us one time and it was big.''

Roberto Alomar led off the game with a single and Piazza
followed with a home run to left-center off Ben Sheets (5-14), who
lost for the seventh time in nine decisions. Sheets allowed five
runs and 11 hits in five innings.

"The home run was enough,'' said Sheets, adding that he wasn't able to throw two good pitches in a row. "It was like batting practice for five innings. I never was in a grove.''

After losing four straight at home to World Series champion
Arizona, the Mets opened a six-game road trip at Milwaukee, the
team with the worst record in the NL.

The Mets evened their record at 56-56. The Brewers have lost six
of seven, dropping to 39-73.

Eric Young singled, stole second and scored on a one-out single
by Lenny Harris as Milwaukee closed within a run in the bottom of
the first. The Brewers didn't get another hit until Paul Bako
singled with one out in the seventh.

"He really started dealing out there,'' Young said of Astacio. "I think we got him (mad) in the first inning and then he was tough. He had all his pitches working and he didn't give in with runners in scoring position.''

New York made it 5-1 in the third on a double-play grounder by
Mo Vaughn, an RBI double by former-Brewer Jeromy Burnitz and a
run-scoring single by Ty Wigginton.

Astacio, who allowed three hits and one run in eight innings of
a 2-1 victory over the Brewers in April, was in control most of the
night. A hit batsman, walk and an error loaded the bases in the
sixth, but he retired Matt Stairs on a grounder to end the threat.

"I'm feeling strong,'' Astacio said. "In this situation, you
have to finish strong. That's the time the team needs you.''

Game notes
Jeff D'Amico (5-9, 5.09 ERA) of the Mets and Glendon Rusch
(5-11, 5.30) of the Brewers will start Wednesday night in matchup
of players involved in an offseason trade. ... Wigginton, playing
third, saved Alomar from an error when he dived to catch Alomar's
bobble of an infield popup behind the mound. ... Before the game,
the Brewers paid tribute to Darrell Porter with a moment of
silence. Porter, who played for the Brewers from 1971-76 and was
the MVP in the 1982 World Series for St. Louis against Milwaukee,
died Monday in Kansas City at the age of 50. ... Milwaukee has a
Hank Aaron bobblehead giveaway Sunday against Montreal.