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Mets Lose Much Needed Game


Give this one to Luis Gonzalez and the Arizona Diamondbacks' bullpen.

Gonzalez drove in four runs with a home run, two doubles and a single as the Diamondbacks beat New York 8-4 Sunday night to take two of three from the Mets.

"After that first double fell in between those two guys, I knew it was going to be a good day," Gonzalez said. "A day like today, everytime I came up to the plate I had runners in scoring position. When I have that, I just try to hit the ball hard in play."

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Game Summary

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  • New York fell 3 1/2 games behind first-place Atlanta in the NL East. The Diamondbacks, winners of 12 of their last 14, stayed 8 1/2 games ahead of second-place San Francisco in the NL West.

    Arizona relievers Brian Anderson, Greg Swindell and Gregg Olson shut out the Mets on one hit over the last five innings and retired the last 12 batters. Matt Williams had a two-run double in Arizona's four-run first inning.

    Gonzalez has hit safely in his last 13 games, his fourth double-digit hitting streak of the season.

    "I think he's been in a groove since about the last week of spring training," manager Buck Showalter said. "We've run out of words to describe what he's meant to us this year."

    He doubled in runs in the first and second innings, then hit a solo homer in the seventh, all off Al Leiter (10-9).

    Gonzalez also singled in a run in the eighth off Billy Taylor.

    The home run was Gonzalez's 23rd, tying the career best he set last year with Detroit.

    The Mets' Mike Piazza didn't start because of a sore left shoulder but caught the last inning. Manager Bobby Valentine said he didn't mean to have Piazza play that inning but only intended for him to warm up the pitcher.

    Plate umpire Larry Poncino assumed Piazza was staying in the game so Valentine left him there. That meant Piazza would not have been available as a pinch-hitter had the Mets rallied.

    Leiter, who hadn't given up more than four runs in his last 17 outings and had allowed just one first-inning run in his previous 11 starts, gave up four in the first inning and one in the second.

    He allowed six runs, five earned, on seven hits while walking six and hitting a batter in 6 1-3 innings. He struck out three.

    Brian Anderson (6-2), recently sent to the bullpen when Todd Stottlemyre returned to the rotation, got his first career relief victory.

    Anderson was unimpressed.

    "A vulture win," he said. "That's bush."

    Anderson replaced Andy Benes, who left after allowing four runs and nine hits in four innings. Olson pitched perfect eighth and ninth innings for his 14th save.

    "We've got good pitching out there," Anderson said. "Everybody in that bullpen can pitch. Right now everybody's throwing well, and that makes everybody else look good. Early in the year, we ran into some bumps in the road and everybody wanted to crucify the bullpen. Now everybody's throwing well and all of a sudden we're a strong part of the bullpen."

    Rickey Henderson was 3-for-5 with an RBI and two stolen bases for New York.

    Leiter and Benes both were the victims of a very small strike zone.

    "It's frustrating," Leiter said. "You pitch for corners at this level. When you have your mind set to go for corners, you have to eliminate that plan and put the ball over the plate. You never get in a rhythm. Andy was getting the same zone. You have to deal with it. It's just part of the game."

    Leiter walked the first two batters in the first and Gonzalez lofted a fly ball to deep left-center. Henderson, the left fielder, and center fielder Darryl Hamilton each thought the other was going to catch it, and it dropped between them and bounced into the stands for an RBI ground-rule double.

    "At this level, balls shouldn't be dropping like that," Hamilton said. "It's probably because we haven't been playing together, but that shouldn't happen."

    New York scored three in the second on RBI singles by Rey Ordonez and Henderson and a run-scoring double by Alfonzo. The Mets cut the lead to 5-4 in the fourth on Roger Cedeno's RBI single.

    Notes

  • Womack stole his 60th base, most in the majors and tying his career high.
  • Cedeno, Womack's closest pursuer with 58, was thrown out trying to steal second for the second night in a row, this time by catcher Kelly Stinnett.
  • Henderson was 6-for-13 in the series.
  • The Diamondbacks finished the season 7-2 against New York, winning six out of the last seven.
  • The Mets had won five consecutive series.
  • Arizona's bullpen is 6-1 with 17 saves, allowing 19 runs, in its last 86 innings.

    ©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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