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Piazza breaks catcher HR mark; Bonds sits

5/6/2004

NEW YORK (AP) -- Mike Piazza held his home run ball and cracked a
satisfied smile.

Now some other catcher can try to chase HIS record.

"I'm very proud of this," Piazza said. "It's just a thrill."

Piazza set a major league mark for home runs as a catcher
Wednesday night, and Shane Spencer hit a tiebreaking, three-run
shot in the eighth inning of the New York Mets' 8-2 victory over
the San Francisco Giants.

Barry Bonds was not in San Francisco's starting lineup for the
third straight game because of a sinus infection, disappointing
many of the 19,974 fans who showed up at Shea Stadium on a rainy
night.

But Piazza made it worth their while, breaking Carlton Fisk's
record with his 352nd homer as a catcher. He drove a 3-1 pitch from
Jerome Williams off the bottom of the scoreboard in right-center in
the first inning for a 1-0 Mets lead.

"It's maybe a little more significant at catcher because of the
physical demands of the position," Piazza said. "Just relief,
because I wanted to get it done and just move on. It's a little bit
of a crossroads for me."

The 10-time All-Star got a warm greeting in the dugout from his
teammates and bounced out for a curtain call.

"It's always nice to be part of history, even if you're just
there to shake hands," Mets manager Art Howe said. "And it wasn't
a cheapie."

Piazza kept the ball as a souvenir, but his bat is headed to the
Hall of Fame.

"I'm so proud to be in that company with the great catchers
that played this game," he said. "It's definitely a special
position. And I'm glad I did it at home."

Mike Cameron also connected for the Mets, who won their third
straight for the first time this season.

The game was delayed by rain for 1 hour, 19 minutes after the
fifth inning, and maybe 1,000 fans were left to see Spencer give
the Mets a 5-2 lead with a two-out drive to center off Matt Herges.

Cameron added a two-run shot for his sixth of the season, making
it 7-2, and Kaz Matsui's RBI single capped the six-run rally. Seven
straight batters reached safely -- all with two outs.

"In that situation, to hang two pitches like I did, so badly,
is unacceptable," Herges said. "I made probably the two worst
pitches I've made in recent memory. We had two outs, I mean, just
make one pitch."

Piazza almost got the big hit in the eighth. With a runner on,
he flied out to the center-field warning track. In a rare show of
emotion, he slammed his helmet down, banged the bench with his bat
and punched the wall in frustration.

"It just kind of reaffirms the fact that nothing has come easy
in my career," said Piazza, drafted in the 62nd round (1,390th
overall) in 1988.

David Weathers (2-1) worked a scoreless eighth for the win. Four
Mets relievers combined for 4 2-3 hitless innings after starter Jae
Seo left with a cracked nail on his right index finger.

Felix Rodriguez (1-2) gave up a single to Todd Zeile in the
eighth and took the loss.

"We were kind of deflated a lot today -- without Barry," Giants
manager Felipe Alou said.

Jeffrey Hammonds, Bonds' replacement, doubled leading off the
second and scored on Edgardo Alfonzo's single.

Cameron walked and scored on a throwing error by Williams in the
bottom half. The Giants tied it at 2 in the fifth when Neifi Perez
led off with a double and scored on Brian Dallimore's sacrifice
fly.

Williams made a wild pickoff throw to third in the fourth, but
Cameron was thrown out trying to score. Williams departed after the
rain delay. He allowed two runs -- one earned -- and four hits.

"I would've went seven, guaranteed. I felt that good,"
Williams said.

Seo was charged with two runs and six hits in 4 1-3 innings.
Howe said Seo's next start will probably be pushed back at least a
few days.

Game notes
The Giants have dropped seven of their last nine road
games. ... Giants 2B Ray Durham (left knee) could be ready to
return when he's eligible to come off the disabled list next
Thursday. ... RHP Ricky Bottalico, called up from the minors
Tuesday, pitched 1 2-3 hitless innings in his Mets debut. ...
Piazza tied Fisk's mark on April 27 at Dodger Stadium with a solo
shot off Hideo Nomo. Piazza, 35, hit his first 177 homers with Los
Angeles. ... Piazza, who has started playing some games at first
base recently, has 363 homers overall, 58th on the career list, six
behind Mets broadcaster Ralph Kiner.