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It's Mets' Turn To Rock House


Shea Stadium rocked Friday night, and John Rocker had nothing to do with it.

Mike Piazza capped a 10-run, eighth-inning comeback with a tiebreaking, three-run homer off Terry Mulholland, and the New York Mets stunned the Atlanta Braves 11-8 Friday night.

Rocker, the controversial reliever who has become New York's No. 1 villain, split open a callous on his pitching hand on his first warmup pitch in the bullpen in the seventh inning.

Rocker could only watch as Don Wengert, Kerry Ligtenberg and Mulholland (8-7) frittered away the 8-1 lead built behind Kevin Millwood, forcing in three runs with bases-loaded walks.

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  • "I really let the team down," Rocker said. "Situations like tonight are the times that I pitch."

    Rocker knew when he got to the ballpark that he was unlikely to pitch.

    "I iced it for six-to-10 hours," said Rocker, who also soaked his left hand and applied chemical solutions.

    While fans chanted, "We want Rocker!" they should have been happy he didn't come in. On Thursday night, he pitched a perfect eighth in the Braves' 6-4 win.

    The threatened "Battery Night" demonstration against Rocker went dead he even spent some time during batting practice signing autographs for the very fans he disparaged last year.

    A sellout crowd of 52,831 filled Shea Stadium on Fireworks Night, but the sparks were created by the ets.

    The 10 runs matched the most ever scored in an inning by the Mets, and nine were driven in with two outs. The comeback from a seven-run deficit was the second-largest in club history.

    "That is one of the most unlikely innings I've ever seen," Mets manager Bobby Valentine said.

    The Braves finished June at 13-15, their first losing month since September 1996. Third baseman Chipper Jones missed the game to return to Atlanta, where doctors were to induce labor in his wife, Sharon.

    "We played a great game tonight. It's just unbelievable," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "We beat ourselves tonight."

    Brian Jordan's three-run homer off Eric Cammack (1-0) had put the Braves ahead 8-1 in the top of the eighth.

    Derek Bell led off the eighth with a single off Wengert, and Piazza hit an infield single with one out.

    Robin Ventura's RBI grounder off Wengert drove in Bell, who set a Mets record by scoring for the 10th straight game.

    Todd Zeile hit an RBI single, Jay Payton chased Wengert with another single and Ligtenberg forced in two runs by walking pinch-hitter Mark Johnson and Melvin Mora with the bases loaded.

    Mulholland relieved for the first time since May 16 and walked Bell, making it 8-6.

    Edgardo Alfonzo slapped a two-run single to left, and Piazza hit the next pitch to left for his 22nd homer, extending his streak of games with RBIs to 13.

    "I wasn't sure if it was going to hit the ball or go through the wall," Zeile said.

    Coming in, the Mets had lost 19 of their last 25 regular-season games against the Braves, 23 of 31 including last year's NL championship series.

    "It's no news that we have trouble beating the Braves," Piazza said. "We come in tight, we press, we kick the ball around. Hopefully, this will kind of relax us."

    Cammack got his first major league victory. Armando Benitez pitched the ninth for his 19th save, retiring Wally Joyner on a game-endinflyout with two on.

    Millwood allowed one run and six hits in seven innings, while Mets starter Mike Hampton walked six (one was intentional), threw two wild pitches and hit a batter.

    Atlanta went ahead in the first when Hampton walked Javy Lopez on a 3-2 pitch with the bases loaded, then added three in the third on Lopez's two-run single and an error by Piazza, who allowed Benny Agbayani's throw from left to get away. Andres Galarraga, who began the play on first, came home from third on the error.

    Keith Lockhart had an RBI grounder in the seventh, a ball that would have been an inning-ending double play if not for a bad relay throw to first by shortstop Mora.

    Pinch-hitter Matt Franco hit a two-out, RBI single in the seventh that made it 5-1.

    Notes

  • The Mets also scored 10 runs in the sixth inning against Cincinnati on June 12, 1979.
  • The Mets' biggest comeback was from an eight-run deficit at Houston on Sept. 2, 1972.
  • Piazza went 0-for-3 against Millwood, dropping to 2-for-19 (.105) against him in his career.
  • Piazza had gone 51 games since April 14 without an error.
  • It was the first sellout at Shea since the home opener.
  • Greg Maddux, scratched from his scheduled Thursday start because he was feeling ill, was scheduled to pitch Saturday against Al Leiter.

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