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Catcher drives home winning run in ninth

9/5/2003

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Mike Lieberthal made sure Jose Mesa didn't
cost the Philadelphia Phillies another game.

Lieberthal's two-out RBI single in the ninth inning lifted the
Phillies to a 6-5 victory over the New York Mets on Thursday night.

The Phillies overcame another blown save by Mesa to win for the
sixth time in seven games and remain tied with Florida for first
place in the NL wild-card race. The Marlins beat the Pirates 5-1
earlier Thursday.

"We really needed to pull this one out," Lieberthal said.
"This definitely would've been a tough one to lose."

The last-place Mets, swept by Philadelphia in a three-game
series last week at Shea Stadium, were coming off a three-game
sweep over first-place Atlanta.

Prentice Redman, playing just his fourth game in the majors, led
off the ninth against Mesa with his first career homer to tie it at
5.

It was Mesa's second blown save in four days and his fourth of
the season in 28 chances. Mesa, who needs to finish 10 of the next
22 games to guarantee his contract for $5.5 million next season, is
5-7 with a 6.26 ERA.

Phillies manager Larry Bowa said he'll consult with pitching
coach Joe Kerrigan before deciding whether Mesa, who temporarily lost
his job last month, will remain the closer.

"A guy in the league that long, I owe it to him to think about
it," Bowa said.

Fans have completely turned on Mesa, booing him whenever he
enters the game.

"It doesn't seem like he has a whole lot of confidence,"
Lieberthal said. "All year he's had trouble with his command."

Mesa doesn't speak to reporters.

Valerio De Los Santos (4-3) retired the two batters he faced in
his first outing since being acquired from Milwaukee on Tuesday.

Marlon Byrd walked to start the ninth against Mike Stanton
(2-6). Byrd went to second on a sacrifice bunt by Jimmy Rollins and
scored on Lieberthal's liner to left-center off David Weathers.

Rollins hit a three-run homer and Jason Michaels had a pinch-hit homer for the Phillies, who are in the middle of a stretch of 27 games in 27 days.

Randy Wolf gave up three runs -- two earned -- and four hits,
striking out seven in seven innings. The All-Star left-hander had
allowed 16 runs in two starts before beating the Mets 4-2 last
Saturday.

"Two positive starts definitely helps out," Wolf said.

Tom Glavine allowed four runs and eight hits in six innings. The
two-time NL Cy Young Award winner won three consecutive decisions
before losing to Wolf last week.

The Mets scored an unearned run off Rheal Cormier in the eighth
to cut it to 5-4. Mike Piazza hit a double with one out, went to
third on a groundout by Jason Phillips and scored when first
baseman Jim Thome dropped a throw from third baseman Tomas Perez
off a grounder by Ty Wigginton.

Mets rookie shortstop Jorge Velandia, playing in place of injured Jose Reyes, drove in two runs. Velandia has five RBI in two starts since being recalled from Triple-A Norfolk.

"Our kids battled an uphill fight most of the way," Mets manager Art Howe said.

After falling behind 2-0, the Phillies scored four runs off Glavine in the fifth inning. Consecutive one-out doubles by Nick Punto and Wolf made it 2-1.

After Byrd walked, Rollins hit Glavine's first pitch into the
seats in left field to give the Phillies a 4-2 lead. Rollins, a
two-time All-Star having a subpar season, flipped his bat, watched
his eighth homer sail over the fence and slowly trotted around the
bases.

"I made a terrible pitch to Randy and Jimmy, and they made me
pay for it," Glavine said.

Michaels' solo shot off John Franco in the seventh made it 5-3.

The Mets scored without getting a hit in the first. Roger Cedeno
walked to start the game, stole second and scored when Rollins
misplayed Danny Garcia's hard grounder up the middle, giving the
Mets a 1-0 lead.

Raul Gonzalez started the fifth with a double, the first hit off
Wolf. He moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Redman and scored on
Velandia's sacrifice fly for a 2-0 lead.

Gonzalez again hit a double to start the seventh, moved to third
on Redman's flyout and scored on a single by Velandia off the glove
of Perez.

Game notes
Lieberthal has an eight-game hitting streak. ... Gonzalez
was 3-for-17 against Wolf before his double in the fifth. ... The
Phillies had five doubles, including two by Byrd, and all were off
Glavine.