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Mets Blank Yanks, Avoid Sweep

Mike Hampton and the New York Mets diverted the Subway Series in an entirely different direction.

Faced with an embarrassing sweep of the four-game series after the loss of their All-Star catcher, the Mets got seven shutout innings from Hampton before he left with a muscle cramp, and they beat the crosstown Yankees 2-0 Sunday night.

"We needed to win this game," Hampton said. "We had to prove to them and ourselves that we could beat them. We felt they got all the breaks in the first three games."

The game was controversy-free after a day of turmoil in Saturday's two-stadium doubleheader sweep by the Yankees. A disputed interference call on Todd Zeile helped them win the opener, which the Mets protested.

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Game Summary

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  • In the second game, All-Star catcher Mike Piazza sustained a concussion when he was hit in the head by Roger Clemens. On Sunday, Piazza accused Clemens of intentionally throwing at the catcher's head, but there were no brushbacks in retaliation for the injury.

    "It was not out of line to expect one of their guys to go down, but the game just didn't call for it," Hampton said. "Mike is our best player, our franchise, and any time you mess with him, you mess with all of us."

    Mets general manager Steve Phillips tried to defuse the high emotions by deciding to keep the Yankees from a weight room commonly used by his team and opposing players.

    "I saw they (the Yankees) were coming into the weight room, and considering what happened and the emotions involved, I didn't think it was appropriate," Phillips said. "If there were eparate weight rooms, it would be all right."

    Yankees GM Brian Cashman agreed with Phillips' decision.

    "Their weight room is in their clubhouse," Cashman said. "Considering the emotions, he felt it wasn't proper (for the players to mingle). Under the situation, I agreed with him. He might have communicated it better."

    But Yankees manager Joe Torre called the eviction of Yankees players "unprofessional" because the Mets were given access to the Yankees' weight room.

    The Yankees won the first three games of the series 2-1, 4-2 and 4-2, and the finale was the best pitchers' duel of all.

    Hampton (9-5), 7-1 in his last 12 starts, and Andy Pettitte (9-5) kept the game close, and even Zeile's 14th homer, to the opposite field in the fourth inning, barely cleared the fence over Paul O'Neill's glove. The ball was in nearly the same spot where O'Neill robbed Derek Bell of a two-run homer on Friday night.

    "I don't think we harbored any extra anger," Zeile said. "We were just focused on getting our job done."

    Hampton, who has not allowed an earned run in 11 1-3 career innings against the Yankees, gave up six hits and two walks. He struck out eight.

    Hampton started warming up for the eighth, but he felt a cramp in his right forearm and was replaced by Armando Benitez, who finished for his 19th save, retiring Felix Jose on a grounder with two on and two out in the ninth.

    "It cramped up, a little fatigue set in, and my thumb locked up, but I have no pain and no soreness," Hampton said.

    But the Yankees did have a serious injury.

    Left fielder Shane Spencer tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee while fielding a hit by Melvin Mora in the first inning, and he will be lost for the season.

    "Shane's pretty distraught," Cashman said. "A lot of times you see this injury on a football field. He needs a knee reconstruction."

    Pettitte allowed five hits and four walks, while striking out four, in 6 1-3 innings. He was replaced in the seventh by Jeff Nelson after a walk and a sacrifice, and the Mets made it 2-0 on a wild pitch and Melvin Mora's sacrifice fly.

    The Yankees remained first in the AL East, three percentage points ahead of Toronto.


  • Piazza, the leading vote-getter for the NL All-Star team, will not go to Atlanta for Tuesday's game. He sat in the dugout during Sunday's game.
  • Hampton pitched 4 1-3 innings without allowing an earned run in three relief appearances for Seattle against the Yankees in 1993. Sunday's game was his first start against them.
  • Hampton and Pettitte both were starting on three days' rest.
  • Spencer was replaced by Jose.
  • The attendance of 54,286 was the largest at Shea Stadium since Sept. 20, 1970, against Pittsburgh.
  • Bell robbed Knoblauch of extra bases in the sixth with an over-the-shoulder catch. Derek Jeter followed with a single.

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