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Piazza Comes Up Huge For Mets


Mike Piazza and his teammates have the same "whatever it takes" attitude.
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  • It provides the best explanation for how the All-Star catcher approached his game-winning pinch-hit appearance and for how New York swept a doubleheader from the Colorado Rockies 6-2 and 6-3 Tuesday.

    Al Leiter shut down Colorado in the opener and Piazza hit a go-ahead, three-run double in the second game as New York pulled off a sweep for the fourth time in five doubleheaders this season.

    "That's why we might have a shot at this," Mets manager Bobby Valentine said. "We're pretty deep. We have guys who can play."

    Edgardo Alfonzo, Todd Hundley, John Olerud and Brian McRae homered in the opener for the Mets, who because of rainouts are playing seven games in a four-day span.

    "Whatever I can do," said Piazza, who also hit a pinch homer last week at St. Louis. "I've maintained all along I just want to help the team."

    Lenny Harris' first homer since June 5, 1997, a two-run shot in the eighth, added a cushion in the second game as New York (68-55) won for the eighth time in 11 games and moved ahead of the Chicago Cubs (69-56) by less than a percentage point in the NL wild-card race.

    New York trailed 3-1 in the second game when Piazza hit for CarloBaerga.

    "I might be the highest-paid pinch hitter in baseball," joked Piazza, completing a $15 million, two-year contract.

    Olerud had singled off starter John Thomson, reliever Chuck McElroy (4-3) walked Hundley on four pitches and McRae hit an infield single that fell between the pitcher's mound, first base and second base.

    "I should have taken control of the popup and I didn't," McElroy said. "When the ball got in between the fielders, I knew that all hell was going to break loose. I take full responsibility for that and the game."

    Piazza then doubled to the gap in right center.

    "It's difficult to take -- still is," Rockies manager Don Baylor said. "We gave up five runs in the seventh and eighth innings. Our bullpen has been so dependable, but it just took us out of the ballgame."

    Mel Rojas (5-2) pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings in relief of Bobby Jones, who allowed all three runs and six hits in six innings. John Franco pitched the ninth for his 26th save in 32 chances.

    Todd Helton's RBI single and Thomson's sacrifice fly had put Colorado ahead in the second, but Rey Ordonez hit a run-scoring grounder in the fourth. Helton doubled in a run in the sixth for a 3-1 lead.

    In the opener, Leiter(12-4) allowed two runs and 10 hits in eight innings, striking out five.

    "I wasn't particularly sharp," he said. "But any time you can hold a Colorado team with two runs in eight innings, I'll certainly take it."

    Pedro Astacio (11-12) gave up all six runs and six hits in five innings, striking out seven.

    Piazza hit an RBI single in the first, and Alfonzo's ninth homer made it 2-0 in the third. Hundley, hit his second homer leading off the fourth.

    Walker's RBI double and Vinny Castilla's run-scoring single pulled the Rockies to 3-2 in the fifth, but Olerud hit a two-run homer in the bottom half, his 17th. McRae hit his 19th later in the inning.

    Notes

  • The Mets still have three more doubleheaders schedule, two against the Cardinals on Thursday and Friday. New York played 19 in 1979, including eight in September.
  • Hundley made his fifth error in 29 starts in left field in the first game when he misplayed a ball off the bat of Walker.
  • Alfonzo made a throwing error at third base in the fourth inning of the first game, snapping a 42-game errorless streak.
  • Hundley's homer was his first at Shea since last Sept. 8.
  • Jorge Fabregas , starting his second game behind the plate since being acquired from Arizona on July 31, went 3-for-3 in the second game.
  • New York is 7-0-4 in its last 11 series.

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