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Byrd's RBI single sinks Mets

9/8/2003

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Marlon Byrd gave Philadelphia a lead its shaky bullpen couldn't lose.

Byrd's bases-loaded single in the 11th inning lifted the Phillies to their sixth straight victory Sunday night, 5-4 over the New York Mets. Philadelphia rallied from a two-run deficit in the eighth and maintained its NL wild-card lead.

"We just kept fighting, kept fighting and we pulled it out," Byrd said.

The Phillies have won eight of 10 after a six-game losing
skid and hold a one-game lead over Florida in the wild-card race.
They've won seven straight against the Mets after their first
four-game sweep of New York since 1995.

"It's big," Byrd said. "The Marlins are getting hot. We have to stay hot to stay on top of the wild card."

Byrd went 8-for-16 in the series and drove in the winning run twice.

Nick Punto's RBI single in the ninth tied it at 4 for the
Phillies, who had been 0-51 when trailing after eight innings.

Todd Pratt led off the 11th with a single off Dan Wheeler (1-3).
Pratt was forced out at second on a failed sacrifice by Tomas Perez.

Pinch-hitter Kelly Stinnett hit a looper down the right-field
line for a single, sending Perez to third. Jason Michaels was
intentionally walked and Byrd hit a blooper over the drawn-in
infield to win it.

Rheal Cormier (6-0) pitched two scoreless innings for the
victory.

The Phillies finished 6-1 on their homestand, rebounding nicely from a 1-9 road trip that allowed the Marlins to climb back into contention.

"That tells you about their desire to keep playing," Philadelphia manager Larry Bowa said. "They don't quit. They've upped the volume."

It won't get any easier for the Phillies on Monday, when they open a four-game series at Atlanta. They have lost 17 of their last 23 on the road.

"We have four crucial games against a great team," Byrd said. "That's what made it a great win."

Pratt homered for the Phillies, who led 2-1 entering the eighth.
But the bullpen crashed again, allowing three runs -- including a
tiebreaking, two-run double by Ty Wigginton off Turk Wendell.

`We'll just keep trying to make it tough on whoever we play," Mets manager Art Howe said.

Philadelphia got a run back in the bottom half when Byrd tripled
and scored on Jimmy Rollins' sacrifice fly.

Mike Lieberthal singled against David Weathers leading off the
ninth. Jim Thome, pinch-hitting for Mets nemesis Pat Burrell,
walked.

Pratt moved both runners up with his first sacrifice bunt of the
year, and Perez was intentionally walked to load the bases.

Punto, a .210 hitter who was 0-for-3, singled up the middle past
diving shortstop Jorge Velandia to score pinch-runner Chase Utley
with the tying run.

"It felt great. I needed that," Punto said.

Pinch-hitter Jason Michaels grounded into a force play, and Byrd
flied out to end the inning.

The Phillies have been hurt by an inconsistent bullpen, thanks
largely to the failure of former closer Jose Mesa, and Mike Williams hasn't provided a boost since he was acquired from
Pittsburgh.

Williams hit Joe McEwing with a pitch leading off the eighth,
and he went to third on Mike Piazza's double. Jason Phillips was
intentionally walked to load the bases, and Raul Gonzalez tied it
with a sacrifice fly off Wendell.

Wigginton, who went 4-for-4, doubled over Burrell's head in left
for a 4-2 lead.

Game notes
Mets starter Al Leiter allowed two runs and four hits in
six innings. ... Phillies pitchers hit three New York batters. ...
Mets RF Roger Cedeno was charged with an error in the first when he
dropped a liner by Byrd. ... Burrell made a diving catch in the
fifth to rob Cedeno of a hit. ... An MRI exam of Phillies INF
Placido Polanco's sore left quadriceps showed a muscle contusion,
but no tear. He has missed eight straight games and is day-to-day. ... Philadelphia starter Amaury Telemaco also provided some offensive punch. He hit a
one-out double down the third-base line in the fifth and scored on
Byrd's single for a 2-1 lead. ... Pratt's fourth homer surpassed
last year's total. ... Telemaco gave up just one run and three hits
over six innings, then left the game with a stiff neck. ... The Phillies improved to 9-3 in extra-inning games.