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Mets Win! Even With Braves


Al Leiter was due.

A career .103 hitter, the New York Mets pitcher was struggling at .081 going into Thursday's game against San Diego.

Then he delivered a bases-loaded double, driving in the final three runs in a 9-3 victory that pushed the Mets back into a first-place tie with the idle Atlanta Braves in the National League East.

The hit, his fourth this season, raised Leiter's batting average to his career number .103. He wasn't ready to brag about his bat, though.

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  • "I have the most pathetic swing in baseball," he said. "But I'll take the three RBIs. I'm not going to stand here and tell you I'm a hitter. I'm just not. It was good to get those three runs, though."

    The two-out hit in the fifth inning restored a six-run lead as New York completed a three-game sweep of the Padres following three straight losses to Los Angeles.

    In a game that started barely 11 hours after the teams completed a rain-delayed game, Darryl Hamilton and Roger Cedeno homered for the Mets while Leiter (10-7) for the eighth time in his last 10 decisions.

    He pitched seven innings, allowing just four hits, all in the fifth when the Padres cut a 6-0 deficit in half.

    Even with the bad inning, Leiter never felt in trouble.

    "I feel I'm throwing as good as any time since I've been here," he said. "I know I'm up to the challenge of making quality starts., If I make my pitches I can keep this team close against anyone. The way the defense has been and the hitting, we'll be all right."

    With both teams traveling to the West Coast later Thursday, the game started shortly after noon EDT, a quick turnaround after the Mets and Padres played until nearly 1 a.m. the night before.

    If they were tired, the Mets didn't show i.

    New York struck quickly. Cedeno beat out a bunt for a leadoff single in the first, moved to third on Edgardo Alfonzo's hit-and-run single and scored on John Olerud's grounder.

    Robin Ventura's sacrifice fly and Hamilton's sixth homer his second since the Mets acquired him from Colorado on July 31 made it 3-0 against Woody Williams (5-11), pounded for nine runs and 10 hits in five innings.

    That started the Padres to their sixth straight loss. San Diego is 3-17 following a 24-7 run that included a club-record 14-game winning streak.

    "When you go through something like this, it's tough on everybody," manager Bruce Bochy said.

    Cedeno's third-inning homer made it 4-0, and the Mets added two more runs in the inning on a double by Olerud, singles by Ventura and Hamilton, who was 3-for-3 with a walk, and a sacrifice fly by Shawon Dunston.

    Leiter got into a bases-loaded jam in the fourth when walks to Phil Nevin and Ruben Rivera were sandwiched around an error by Olerud at first. But Ben Davis hit into a double play, ending the threat.

    With 3,000-hit man Tony Gwynn resting with a sore left knee, Leiter did not allow a hit until the fifth. Chris Gomez blooped a double leading off, Damian Jackson hit an RBI single and Eric Owens' eighth homer made it 6-3.

    Leiter, who pitched a no-hitter for Florida in 1996, admitted he was aware that the Padres were hitless through four innings.

    "I had a curve and that's good for me. I knew it would be a pretty good day," he said. "I'm very well aware this team has never had a no-hitter. "

    And this season, no complete games, either.

    Notes

  • Gwynn is expected back in the Padres' lineup Friday.
  • Alfonzo learned after the game that his uncle died Thursday in Caracas, Venezuela. He left the team for the funeral and will rejoin the Mets at San Francisco on Sunday.
  • The Mets have the best record in the majors since June 5 at 43-18, including 20-7 since the All-Star break.
  • Mets RP Bobby Jones, disabled since May 23, was scheduled to make his second rehab start for Binghamton on Thursday night. John Franco, on the DL since July 3, threw 30 pitches with no ill effects.
  • It was the sixth time this season the Padres have been swept in a series and the first time since Sept. 6-7, 1986, that San Diego lost three straight at Shea Stadium. The Padres have lost 12 of their last 14 on the road.
  • Leiter was the first Mets pitcher to drive in three runs since Frank Tanana in 1993.
  • The usually flawless Mets' defense committed two errors (Olerud at first and Cedeno in right), raising the season total to 54.

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

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