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Piazza's two-run shot seals it in 10th inning

5/10/2003

NEW YORK (AP) -- Mike Piazza has already sat out a suspension,
become embroiled in a feud, been slowed by nagging injuries and now
been asked about a position switch by his last-place team.

And it's only mid-May.

Piazza swung things in his direction Saturday, however, hitting
a two-run homer in the 10th inning to lift the New York Mets over
the San Diego Padres 4-2.

"With all the situations I've gone through in my career, the
one constant is it feels good to get on the field," Piazza said.

Jay Bell led off the 10th with a line single and Piazza followed
with a towering drive into the left-field bleachers on a 1-0 pitch
from Jaret Wright (1-5).

Piazza's homer was his fourth of the season. Wright lowered his
head and pulled his cap over his eyes as the ball sailed out of the
park.

To some degree, it appeared that playing the game was a refuge
for Piazza after a week full of distractions.

The All-Star catcher had a benign mole removed from his lower
abdomen Monday and was limited to one pinch-hitting appearance
during a three-game series against Los Angeles because the skin was
too tight for him to put on his equipment.

At least Piazza did not have any more run-ins with Guillermo
Mota. Their problems in spring training led to both players being
suspended.

Also this week, the Mets said they'd like to see Piazza begin to
practice at first base because Mo Vaughn is hurt and they don't
know when or if the burly first baseman will play again.

"I realize there's a lot of focus on me, sometimes it's
embarrassing," Piazza said earlier.

After about 15 minutes of questions after his homer, Piazza
said, "I need a nap."

He then disappeared out the clubhouse door.

Joe McEwing, who had three hits and a walk for the Mets, said of
Piazza, "It seemed like he could exhale after he hit it."

Piazza went 2-for-5, and also doubled.

Mike Stanton (2-2), the fourth Mets pitcher, pitched the 10th
for the victory.

Roger Deago, a 25-year-old left-hander from Panama making his
major league debut, pitched the first six innings for the Padres,
allowing two runs on five hits.

In the second and fourth innings, Deago batted with the bases
loaded, striking out and hitting into a force out at the plate.

"Our best scoring opportunities (came) when he was the hitter.
That's asking a lot. We just had the wrong guy at bat there,"
Padres manager Bruce Bochy said.

New York twice rallied to tie the score.

Brian Buchanan, filling for Ryan Klesko, hit his first home run
to put the Padres ahead 1-0. He connected to lead off the fourth
after Al Leiter pitched three hitless innings.

Cliff Floyd's sacrifice fly tied it at 1 in the bottom half.

San Diego went back in front, 2-1, in the fifth on Mark
Loretta's double, an infield out and Buchanan's sacrifice fly.

In the Mets fifth, McEwing walked with one out and went all the
way to third on Leiter's sacrifice that was fielded by Deago.
McEwing beat the return throw from first baseman Buchanan.

Raul Gonzalez followed with an RBI double.

Leiter gave up two runs on four hits in seven innings, walking
four and striking out three.

Deago walked three and struck out four.

McEwing tied a career high with three hits.

Game notes
Deago was called up from Double-A Mobile for this
appearance after going 3-1 for the Southern League team. ...
McEwing had three hits in a game 14 previous times. ... Mets
reliever Scott Strickland left the game in the eighth with a groin
strain and is day-to-day. ... Padres are now 1-5 in extra-inning
games.

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