NEW YORK (AP) -- Roger Cedeno couldn't believe what he heard as
he stood on third base. New York Mets manager Bobby Valentine was
yelling at him to steal home.
Cedeno scored on a daring dash to the plate, and the rest of the
Mets spent most of the afternoon trotting around the bases in
Saturday's 11-2 victory over the New York Yankees.
Mo Vaughn's fifth-inning home run was his fourth shot in the last three games for the Mets.
"Bobby yelled, 'Roger, go!''' Cedeno said. "One guy whose
voice I can recognize is Bobby's. I looked over at the dugout like,
'You sure?' I just took a chance. I'm glad it worked. You've got to
make things happen.'' Mo Vaughn, Mike Piazza and backup catcher Vance Wilson all
homered as the Mets showed the Yankees they can play long ball,
too. Behind a strong pitching performance from Al Leiter, the Mets
evened this Subway Series at a game apiece and have won three of
five against their crosstown rivals this season. More importantly, the Mets avoided losing any more ground in the
NL East, remaining 9½ games behind first-place Atlanta. "Right now, every win is big for us,'' said Jay Payton, who had
three hits. "We've got to start winning as many games as we can
and chip away at Atlanta.'' Leiter (8-6) shut down the powerful Yankees, who lead the majors
with 125 homers. He gave up a solo shot to Derek Jeter in the first
but scattered just five other hits over seven sharp innings to
lower his ERA to 2.95. Wilson drove in two runs for the Mets. John Valentin, starting
at second base to give Roberto Alomar a rest, had two RBI and
turned a pair of key 5-4-3 double plays. Cedeno tripled with two outs in the fourth and danced off third
as Ted Lilly (3-6) worked from the windup. He took off on the
second delivery to Edgardo Alfonzo, and Yankees catcher Alberto
Castillo appeared to have trouble handling the low pitch. "That was me. I just fell asleep at the switch,'' Yankees
manager Joe Torre said. "He should have been pitching from the
stretch.'' Once Castillo gathered the ball, he lifted his glove and lunged
toward Cedeno, who slid under the tag to the corner of the plate.
Plate umpire Larry Young signaled safe, and the Mets fans among the
sellout crowd of 55,615 broke into a big cheer. "I had no clue he was coming,'' Castillo said. "Lilly looked
at him twice, but I didn't know until just at the end. I went down
to catch the ball and tagged him. He never touched home plate, I
don't know how he could be safe.'' According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the first straight
steal of home by the Mets since Tommie Agee did it July 31, 1971,
against the Chicago Cubs. "It was fun to watch,'' Mets outfielder Jeromy Burnitz said.
"It's not something you see very often. That's definitely a big
play, and it can take the wind out of their sails.'' Cedeno, signed as a free agent last winter, has just 11 stolen
bases this season after finishing second in the AL with 55 for
Detroit last year. It was the first time he ever tried to steal
home. "Bobby's like that,'' Vaughn said. "He sees things and makes
the right call.'' Cedeno finished with three hits, including a two-run single. Vaughn homered deep into the right-field upper deck leading off
the fifth, chasing Lilly. It was Vaughn's ninth homer of the year
and fourth in three games after struggling for most of the season's
first half. "I guess it just took some time,'' he said. "I'm starting to
feel pretty good about it. I think now I'm just up there in a
rocking chair, letting the ball come to me. I knew I could do these
things, I've done it in the past.'' Vaughn also doubled off the very top of the center-field fence
in the sixth. "It should've went out,'' he said. "You hit the ball that far,
it's not supposed to hit the top of the fence like that.'' Piazza, the designated hitter for the second straight game,
added a solo shot off Ramiro Mendoza in the sixth to make it 7-1.
The Mets also hit three home runs Friday night and have gone deep
in 10 consecutive games. Lilly, coming off a three-hit shutout of San Diego, was roughed
up for six runs -- five earned -- and seven hits in four-plus
innings. With Orlando Hernandez's impressive return from the
disabled list in relief Friday night, he could be in jeopardy of
losing his spot in the rotation. "Lilly was good or bad. There was no in-between with him
today,'' Torre said. "It was a little mystifying.''
The Mets are 12-17 against the Yankees since interleague
play began in 1997. ... The Yankees had just 23 players available
because OF Shane Spencer and INF Ron Coomer are nursing injuries.
... Enrique Wilson played right field for the Yankees, his first
career start in the outfield. ... Castillo threw Cedeno out trying
to steal second in the sixth. ... Leiter improved to 5-7 lifetime
against his former team. ... Yankees DH Jorge Posada came out with
a bruised left knee after fouling a pitch off it in the seventh. He
said he expects to play Sunday night.