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Mets Win Again, Edge Tampa Bay


Every pitch Rick White threw in the first inning seemed to have a mind of its own.

"The ball was flying everywhere and I couldn't stop it," said White, who walked five Mets in the first inning -- two with the bases loaded -- in New York's 3-2 win over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

Al Leiter labored for six innings but won his fourth straight start and Butch Huskey homered as New York won for the 12th time in its last 14 at home.

Leiter (7-3) allowed one run and four hits with nine strikeouts in six innings. The left-hander walked three and struggled with his control from the first inning, but hung around long enough to drop his ERA to 1.70, second in the NL to Atlanta's Greg Maddux (1.69).

"It was one of those game where it was a bit of a battle," Leiter said. "But I'll take it. There have been starts when I've pitched a lot better and didn't get the win."

The Mets got just four hits, but took advantage of White's first-inning wildness and Huskey's sixth-inning homer.

Mike DiFelice had two of Tampa Bay's six hits. The Devil Rays have lost seven of nine.

Dennis Cook struck out the side in the eighth as the Mets recorded a season-high 14 strikeouts. Mel Rojas allowed an RBI double to Wade Boggs in the ninth before picking up his second save.

New York batted for 22 minutes in the first inning, spending most of the time walking around the infield courtesy of White (0-3). The right-hander walked three of the first four Mets to load the bases, then walked Huskey and Rich Becker in succession to force in two runs.

"It's kind of like being in a daze," White said, trying to explain is inability to get one over the plate. "It's kind of hard to explain, it's kind of like you're light-headed in a way. Like you've been hit upside the head."

The Devil Rays got one run back in the fourth. Paul Sorrento led off with a double, and after Leiter struck out the next two, DiFelice fouled off a pair of 3-2 pitches before doubling to left.

White somehow managed to find his control and had allowed just one hit - Mike Piazza's leadoff single in the third - until Huskey's eighth homer with one out in the sixth gave the Mets a 3-1 lead.

White gave up three runs and two hits with six walks in six innings. But it was that bad inning that did him in.

"After hat first and I got out it, I settled in there and the next five innings were pretty good."

Leiter worked himself out of a jam in the first inning. He walked leadoff hitter Randy Winn on four pitches and gave up a single to Aaron Ledesma before striking out the side.

Notes

  • Tampa Bay pitcher Rolando Arrojo is expected to rejoin the team in Boston on Thursday. He has been in Florida with the team's permission since Sunday attending to an undisclosed personal matter. Arrojo, who defected from Cuba in 1996, is 8-3 and among the early leading candidates for AL Rookie of the Year honors. He's scheduled to start against the Red Sox on Friday night.
  • Following the game, the Mets announced they had designated Becker for assignment and had traded infielder Shawn Gilbert and a player to be named to the St. Louis Cardinals for outfielder Wayne Kirby.
  • White, who wears No. 51, was introduced as No. 27 when he took the mound and was listed as No. 27 on the game scorecard. He's No. 99 in the Devil Rays' media guide.
  • Piazza went 2-for-3 with a walk and is hitting .407 since joining the Mets.
  • Mets right-hander Armando Reynoso and catcher Todd Pratt are both expected to join the club's Port St. Lucie affiliate later this week on rehab assignments. Reynoso has been sidelined with a strained elbow, and Pratt has a nerve condition in his right shoulder.

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