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Struggling Mets fall below .500 mark

6/6/2002

ATLANTA (AP) -- Tom Glavine is getting better with age.

The 36-year-old Glavine became the NL's second 10-game winner,
pitching seven strong innings as the Atlanta Braves completed a
sweep of the slumping New York Mets with a 3-2 victory Thursday.

Glavine struggled through the first two innings, throwing 50
pitches, but he didn't falter on a sweltering day that claimed New
York catcher Mike Piazza, who had to leave in the sixth because of
lightheadedness.

"I've never gotten old,'' Glavine quipped. "Sure, every year
that goes by I get a little older. But physically speaking, I feel
as good now, or better, than I have in some years. I don't even
think about my age.''

Glavine (10-2) won his fifth straight start, allowing seven hits
and both New York runs. He retired the last nine hitters he faced
to reach 10 wins at the earliest point of his career.

Arizona's Curt Schilling leads the majors with 11 wins.

"I looked up at my pitch count after the second inning and
thought, 'I have to figure out something or I'm not going to be
around here very long,' '' Glavine said. "The last two innings, my
energy level was better and stronger than at any point of the
game.''

Atlanta won for the ninth time in 11 games, including three
straight victories over the Mets. The other game in the series was
rained out.

Overall, the Mets have lost five in a row, falling below .500
(29-30) and 4½ games behind the first-place Braves in the NL East.

"It doesn't really mean much, other than seeing their fans walk
out of the stadium mad. That gives me great pleasure,'' Chipper
Jones said. "But it's too early. That's a team we will hear from
at some point in the season.''

New York lost the three games at Turner Field by a total of four
runs. The frustration was especially evident in the eighth, when
Jay Payton's drive with a runner aboard was caught against the
right-field wall by Gary Sheffield for the third out. Payton
slammed his helmet into the dirt after rounding first.

"We're not happy with 29-30,'' losing pitcher David Weathers
said. "We know we're better than that. We have the talent to turn
it around and catch up with the Braves.''

Mike Remlinger and John Smoltz pitched a scoreless inning
apiece, with Smoltz earning his 17th save.

The Mets are struggling offensively, batting just .243 as a team
and ranking 13th in the league in runs scored. Poor fundamentals
aren't helping matters, either.

In the third, New York put runners at first and third with no
outs. But starting pitcher Jeff D'Amico chopped a bunt directly in
front of the plate, leading to an easy double play for the Braves
while the runner at third had to hold. Roberto Alomar struck out to
end the inning.

"We just couldn't get the bunt down,'' manager Bobby Valentine
said. "Things will come our way. Our hits will fall. They will
come to our ballpark.''

D'Amico took a 2-1 lead to the sixth, but Andruw Jones homered
deep into the left-field seats to tie it up.

"I had a good pitch to hit,'' Jones said. ``They left it over
the plate and I hit a home run.''

The Braves pushed across the go-ahead run in the seventh against
Weathers (2-2), who gave up a leadoff triple to Keith Lockhart and
let him come home with a wild pitch that flew to the backstop.

"It was a terrible pitch,'' Weather said. "We were going for
the strikeout. I lost that game today. That's bottom line.''

Lockhart was denied a homer in the fourth when Joe McEwing made
a leaping catch above the wall. On the triple, though, McEwing
allowed the ball to skip by him as it rolled along the wall in the
right-field corner, giving Lockhart an extra base. No error was
charged.

"It's definitely a lot easier to hit a home run than a
triple,'' Lockhart said. "I was thinking double when I hit it, but
as soon as it got by him I went to third.''

Piazza had a run-scoring double in the first to put the Mets
ahead, but a throwing error in the bottom half helped the Braves
tie it up. Rafael Furcal led off with a single, stole second and
went to third when Piazza's throw sailed into center field.

Julio Franco picked up the 1,000th RBI of his career by
grounding out to short, bringing home Furcal.

The Mets reclaimed the lead on Alomar's RBI single in the
second, but they were held scoreless the rest of the way.

Piazza was knocked out by the stifling afternoon. The
temperature was in the mid-80s with high humidity.

I started feeling a little nauseous,'' he said. "I started
cramping up a little bit. I came in and they gave me some
fluids.''

Game notes
The earliest Glavine had reached 10 wins before this season
was 1991, when he got there on June 9. He went on to claim the
first of two Cy Young Awards. ... Jones' 15th homer of the season
was measured at 421 feet. ... Franco went 0-for-4, ending a
nine-game hitting streak. ... Vance Wilson finished the game at
catcher for the Mets. He led off the eighth with a single but was
stranded.