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Mets match longest home skid in 22 years

8/15/2002

NEW YORK (AP) -- The boos started when Vance Wilson threw a ball
into right field. They kept going when Mo Vaughn misplayed a
grounder and Ty Wiggington lost a popup in the sun -- all in an
excruciating fifth inning.

New York Mets fans haven't seen a stretch this bad in 22 years
and didn't mind letting the team know about it.

Tom Lampkin had three hits and two RBI as the San Diego Padres
capitalized on the Mets' sloppy play to extend New York's longest
home losing streak since 1980 with a 5-3 victory Thursday.

"The fifth inning stunk,'' Mets manager Bobby Valentine said.
"I don't want to think about that. We threw one away, missed a
grounder and blew a popup. That can't happen.

"I don't think it was lack of concentration. I don't know what
it was.''

The Mets have lost five straight overall and eight in a row at
Shea Stadium, falling a season-high four games below .500. It's New
York's longest losing streak at home since the Mets dropped eight
straight in August 1980 on the way to a 67-95 season.

That team had few expectations, unlike this year's $95 million
version, which many fans thought would compete for a playoff berth.
Instead, the Mets are in sixth place in the wild card standings and
out of the NL East race.

"Who said things were going to be easy or perfect?'' Vaughn
said. "We wanted it to, but things didn't work out that way. We
just have to try to turn it around.''

The Padres, who came into the series tied with Milwaukee for the
fewest road wins in the NL with 17, swept a series at Shea Stadium
for the first time since Aug. 27-29, 1996.

"It was good to come back in here and get a sweep and play
well,'' Padres manager Bruce Bochy said. "We got good starting
pitching all series and that's the key. The starters just did a
terrific job.''

Brett Tomko (6-8) took advantage of a lineup missing Mike Piazza
and Edgardo Alfonzo to win for just the second time in 10 starts.
Tomko allowed one run and six hits in six innings as the Padres
improved to 4-15 in his last 19 starts.

After the Mets scored two unearned runs with two outs in the
eighth, Piazza grounded out as a pinch hitter against Brandon Villafuerte with the tying runs on base. Piazza missed the previous
two games with tendinitis in his left wrist.

Trevor Hoffman pitched the ninth for his 31st save in 33
chances.

"It was fortunate to catch them without Alfonzo and Piazza in
the lineup for these three days,'' said Hoffman, who saved all
three games. "That makes a big difference. We were able to work
around (Roberto) Alomar and Vaughn. But with guys like that sitting
behind them it's a lot tougher.''

San Diego stranded seven runners in the first three innings
before breaking through with a run in the fourth on Ryan Klesko's
RBI single against John Thomson (7-10). The Padres could have had
more except Gene Kingsale was caught in a rundown after straying
too far off third.

Tony Tarasco tied the game with his sixth homer of the year in
the bottom half, before the Padres broke it open with the Mets'
help in the fifth.

Bubba Trammell led off with a walk and went to second when
Wilson's pickoff throw went into right field for an error. Vaughn
then bobbled Deivi Cruz's grounder to first for another error,
putting runners on first and third.

One out later, Lampkin hit a line drive to center field. Timo Perez broke in on the ball initially, and it sailed over his head
for a two-run double.

"I think the ball was hit harder than he thought it was,''
Valentine said. "The ball kept carrying. The ball was hit hard.''

With two outs, Ramon Vazquez hit a popup on the infield that
Wiggington lost in the sun for an RBI single, bringing the loudest
boos of the inning. The Mets have a major league-worst 107 errors
this season.

"To be honest, we've been on the other end of that a lot of
times,'' Bochy said. "If you put the ball in play and good things
can happen.''

Thomson, acquired from Colorado on July 31, lost his second
straight start as a Met, allowing five runs -- three earned -- and 10
hits in 4 2/3 innings.

"I think most of it is my fault for getting behind the
hitters,'' said Thomson, who is 1-7 with a 5.64 ERA in his last 13
starts.

Game notes
Piazza will undergo an MRI on Friday. ... Alfonzo is on the
DL with a strained oblique muscle. ... Padres OF Mark Kotsay missed
his third straight game because of a bruised left thumb. ...
Thomson has two wins in his past 16 starts -- both against San
Diego. ... The Padres won the season series 4-3 to tie the all-time
series at 192. San Diego has won nine of the last 11 season series
against the Mets.