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Piazza, Mets Slam D'Backs


This was the kind of performance from Mike Piazza that New York Mets fans -- whether they cheer or boo him -- know can carry their team to the playoffs.
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  • Piazza hit his major league-leading fourth grand slam, made a sliding catch into the Arizona dugout and threw out a runner trying to steal in leading the Mets over the Diamondbacks 9-4 Saturday.

    "It's just a constant process," said Piazza, who has experienced both sides of Mets fans since joining the team. "I'm a little too tired to have fun."

    The Mets, playing their fifth game in less than 48 hours, rallied from an early 4-0 deficit. Bobby Jones (9-7), pitching on three days' rest for the first time this season, helped New York take a one-game lead in the NL wild-card race over Chicago, which lost 8-3 to Houston.

    Piazza hit the Mets' first slam of the year, keying a six-run second inning against Andy Benes (11-12). Piazza singled and scored in a two-run fifth.

    Piazza has drawn a mixed reaction from the home crowd since the Mets got him from Florida in May, perhaps the result of high expectations for the All-Star catcher.

    "I just think the whole situation is getting a little redundant," Piazza said. "You do the job as best you can."

    Piazza admitted he might have been pressing when he first joined the Mets, but "now I've just kind of settled in and I'm not trying to do too much."

    There were scattered boos in the crowd of 42,654 when Piazza struck out with runners on first and third in the opening inning, but he quickly changed that in his next at-bat.

    With the Mets trailing 4-2, Piazza stepped up with thbases loaded and two outs in the second and hit a full-count pitch high to left field. Former Mets teammate Bernard Gilkey drifted back and, with the outcome still in doubt, could only watch the ball carry over the wall.

    Several of the Mets players spilled out of the dugout to greet Piazza, with pitcher John Franco bumping chests with him and manager Bobby Valentine offering an enthusiastic high-five. It was Piazza's ninth career slam, with three of them coming earlier this season for Los Angeles.

    Piazza got another standing ovation when he came out to catch the next inning, and a highlight reel of his Mets accomplishments was shown on the scoreboard. He immediately added another standout play, sliding into the third-base dugout to catch Travis Lee's foul popup leading off the third.

    "It's a real gutsy play," Jones said. "It's a good-sized drop going into the dugout."

    Piazza singled in the fifth and Brian McRae hit an RBI double that finished Benes, who had won four straight starts. Rey Ordonez drove in a run with a grounder off Felix Rodriguez.

    Ordonez hustled home from third to score in the eighth, beating Lee's throw from first on a groundout by Tony Phillips.

    The Mets, coming off consecutive doubleheaders against St. Louis, quickly fell behind. Benes, who began the game with one RBI in 47 at-bats this year, hit a two-out, two-run double in the second inning and Andy Fox followed with a two-run single.

    "We got out to a lead and needed a couple of shutdown innings, and couldn't get it done," Arizona manager Buck Showalter said.

    "Andy had his best fastball of the year, but he didn't get many counts in his favor," Showalter said. "It's unfortunate he got in a situation where he had to make a pitch to Piazza."

    Jones won for just the second time in nine starts since the All-Star break. He had two losses and five no-decisions in that span, but won with seven effective innings.

    Notes

  • Piazza threw out Gilkey trying to steal second in the first inning.
  • Gilkey, traded from the Mets to Arizona on July 31, had two hits. He needs 10 more to reach 1,000 career hits.
  • Benes began the game with eight consecutive balls.
  • Piazza hit his second slam of the season against Arizona.
  • The Mets won despite being outhit 8-6.

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