NEW YORK (AP) -- With the bases loaded in the first inning, and
the Yankee Stadium crowd already sensing another win over their
crosstown rival, Al Leiter quieted the fans and the Bronx Bombers'
After falling behind Jason Giambi 2-0 in the count, Leiter came
back to throw a called third strike on a pitch the left-hander
called a "backup cement mixer." Leiter then retired Jorge Posada
on a slow roller to get out of the inning, and the Mets went on to
beat up rookie Brad Halsey in a six-run fourth that propelled them
to a 9-3 victory Saturday.
"Keep not believing in us," said Cliff Floyd, who homered in
the seventh for the Mets' final run.
Jason Phillips doubled past a diving Alex Rodriguez at third for
a 3-2 lead in the fourth inning, Jose Reyes followed with an RBI
single and had a key stolen base. Then, in his first major league
game against Hideki Matsui, Kaz Matsui hit a two-run single that
opened a 6-2 lead. Every Mets starter except Mike Cameron had a
"They beat us up," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "There's
not much to talk about. We couldn't get them out."
Playing against a team Leiter (3-2) called "the mighty
Yankees," who have the best record in the majors at 45-26, the
Mets finished with 12 hits and stopped a seven-game losing streak
against their crosstown rival, pulling back to .500 this season at
Alex Rodriguez, in his first game against the Mets since he was
dealt to the Yankees last winter, came up with runners in scoring
position in every at bat and went 0-for-5. He stranded seven
runners, including five on second or third, and is hitting .197
(13-for-66) with runners in scoring position, including .086
(3-for-35) with two outs.
"We were just a little flat," he said.
Overall, the Yankees were just 1-for-11 with runners in scoring
position. The Mets got five straight hits with runners in scoring
position in the fourth.
"It's a win. It doesn't count as two," Leiter said. "I wish
Derek Jeter, celebrating his 30th birthday, was a quiet 2-for-4
for the Yankees, 24-13 against the Mets in the regular season since
interleague play began in 1997.
"Yeah, I'm old," the Yankees captain said.
The teams play a day-night doubleheader Sunday to make up
Friday's rainout, with Jose Contreras starting the opener for the
Yankees -- his first appearance since reuniting with his family,
which defected from Cuba earlier in the week.
Gary Sheffield, who missed three starts because of bursitis in
his left shoulder, hit a two-run homer for the Yankees and Hideki
Matsui had a solo shot.
In Japan, attention was focused on the game because of the
Matsui vs. Matsui matchup. In his first at-bat, Hideki Matsui lined
out to Kaz Matsui at shortstop in the second inning. In the sixth,
Kaz flied out to Hideki in left. During batting practice, the pair
talked about living in New York.
"The atmosphere, the energy, the voltage was high," Kaz Matsui
said after playing his first game at Yankee Stadium. "There's
probably nothing like it anywhere else."
Before a sellout crowd of 55,303, the Yankees immediately put
pressure when Bernie Williams walked leading off the first and
Jeter singled. But Rodriguez hit a weak grounder to first and,
after throwing a ball, Leiter intentionally walked Sheffield, a
.368 hitter against him, to face Giambi.
Giambi, 1-for-5 against Leiter with a three-run homer last year,
swung through the 2-0 pitch, fouled another off and took a ball.
Leiter then overthrew a cutter so much that the ball hardly broke
and stayed over the plate as Giambi was taken by surprise.
Posada followed with a slow roller to the third-base side of the
mound, and Leiter threw him out at first. Leiter then settled down
and wound up allowing three runs, five hits and four walks in 6 1-3
innings. Ricky Bottalico and Jose Parra combined for one-hit
"It's important to get that first one," Mets manager Art Howe
said. "Last year, we didn't get any."
Halsey (1-1), a left-hander who won at Los Angeles a week
earlier in his major league debut, walked five, and three of those
runners scored. He gave up seven runs -- six earned -- five hits and
three stolen bases in 3 1-3 innings.
"Obviously, I knew I didn't have command of my fastball early
in the game," he said.
After Phillips put the Mets ahead and Reyes singled, Reyes was
caught off first but wound up stealing second as Giambi decided not
to throw. Kaz Matsui fell behind 0-2 in the count, then slapped a
two-run single to right over the drawn-in infield. Mike Piazza and
Richard Hidalgo followed with RBI singles off Tanyon Sturtze.
Leiter then relaxed against the Yankees, the team he started
"They have a swagger," he said. "Players in here get up for
Mets RHP Jae Seo (3-5), scheduled to pitch Wednesday at
Cincinnati, may be skipped in the rotation. ... Yankees RHP Kevin
Brown, on the disabled list since June 10 with back spasms, will
throw a bullpen session Sunday before New York decides whether he
needs a rehabilitation assignment.