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Alomar, Piazza sink Cubs with back-to-back homers

4/11/2002

CHICAGO (AP) -- Leave it to an old AL foe to give up Roberto Alomar's first home run with the New York Mets.

Alomar homered for the first time since being traded to the
New York Mets, and Mike Piazza followed with a home run of his own to give
New York a 3-2 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday.

"It's a relief when you face somebody you know," Alomar said.
"I went out there looking for a pitch I can drive."

Drive it, he did.

The Mets weren't having much luck against Kerry Wood, who struck
out 10 and allowed just four hits over seven innings. But with a
2-1 lead, a blister on Wood's middle finger and right-hander Kyle
Farnsworth hurt, Cubs manager Don Baylor opted to have lefty Jeff
Fassero pitch the eighth inning.

During Alomar's time in the American League, he was 8-for-16
with two homers against Fassero. While just 1-for-18 against
lefties coming in, Alomar put the first pitch he saw from Fassero
(2-0) into the right-field bleachers.

"I thought it was an out," Fassero said. "But the ball just
kept going and going."

Farnsworth, who has a 0.00 ERA in 1 1/3 innings this season, was
warming up in the seventh when he heard a "pop" in his right
foot. X-rays showed a stress fracture, and he's expected to miss
4-to-6 weeks. He'll go on the 15-day disabled list Thursday.

That meant Baylor had to stick with Fassero. And Piazza, who
struck out in his first three at-bats, followed with an
opposite-field homer to right on a 3-1 pitch.

Fassero finally got Edgardo Alfonzo on a popup to end the
inning, and there were boos as he left the field.

"You're only as good as your last at-bat," Piazza said.
"Robbie gave us a lift and I was just glad to put us over the
top."

The homer was the first in the NL since Sept. 17, 1990, for
Alomar, who was traded to the Mets from Cleveland in December. He
began his career with the San Diego Padres.

Alomar finished the day 1-for-4, boosting his average to .200.
"I checked his record, and he doesn't do all that well in the
first week," Mets manager Bobby Valentine said. "I know we all
want to see everyone play their greatest game every day they play,
but humans don't do that.

"He showed he was a little human. And then he showed he was
Robbie Alomar in the eighth inning."

David Weathers (2-0) allowed one hit in 1 2/3 innings. Armando
Benitez pitched the ninth for his first save, striking out one and
allowing a double to Alex Gonzalez.

With the wind blowing in at Wrigley Field, it was a pitcher's
duel early. Wood gave up only one hit after the third inning, and
Shawn Estes allowed only one all day.

But both pitchers ran into trouble in the seventh. Alfonzo got
the Mets going with a leadoff, full-count walk, and Jeromy Burnitz
followed with a single.

Mark Johnson sacrificed to put both runners into scoring
position, and Alfonzo scored on Rey Ordonez's sacrifice fly.

"(Wood) had a blister from the second inning on and he pitched
through it," Baylor said. "I was trying to get him the lead. He
pitched well enough that he deserved to win that game."

The Cubs got Wood the lead. Corey Patterson and Sammy Sosa
leading off the bottom of the seventh with walks, and Gonzalez hit
an RBI single. Two batters later, pinch-hitter Todd Hundley flied
to right, giving the Cubs a 2-1 lead.

That, Baylor figured, was good enough for Wood to call it a day.

"If it was a 1-0 game, he was probably going to go back out
there," Baylor said. "But once we got the lead ... we had to hold
and we didn't."

Game notes
Alomar's previous NL homer came off Houston's Danny Darwin.
... Wood has had double-digit strikeouts in 21 of his 79 major
league starts. ... Patterson stole his sixth base of the season.
... Vanna White was the guest conductor for "Take Me Out to the
Ball Game." No, she didn't spell it out.