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Reed Huge In Mets Win


The reminder in the New York Mets clubhouse was simple yet telling: Bring luggage for three days.

After losing eight of nine games to go from four games up in the NL wild-card race to two back in 10 days, the last things the Mets were planning on was baseball after Sunday.

How quickly things change.

Rick Reed pitched a three-hitter, struck out a career-high 12 and hit a two-run single as New York beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 7-0 Saturday night to tie Cincinnati for the NL wild-card lead.

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  • "We were in dire straits, on the brink of elimination," New York's Al Leiter said. "There were still possibilities, but they weren't good. It just goes to show that talent always rises. One more day like this and we're in."

    The Mets gathered early at Shea Stadium to watch pitch-by-pitch updates on the Internet of the Reds' 10-6 loss to Milwaukee and they watched Houston's 3-0 win over Los Angeles on clubhouse televisions.

    They then went out and won on their own, setting up the biggest game at Shea Stadium since the fifth game of the 1988 NL championship series against the Dodgers the last playoff game at Shea.

    "After the Reds game, I started pacing from the locker room, to the trainer's room, to the weight room," Reed said. "I had to be calmed down. ... The butterflies in my stomach were growing. They were big ones."

    The complicated scenarios have gotten rather simple for the Mets. If they win Sunday against Pittsburgh, they have at least one more game left.

    With a loss by either Houston or Cincinnati, that 163rd game will be played in Arizona on Tuesday night as the first game of a best-of-5 division series.

    If all three teams win, or Cincinnati and New York both lose, the Mets and Reds will meet in a ne-game playoff Monday in Cincinnati.

    "We were a group of guys that fell off a boat," manager Bobby Valentine said. "We're swimming ashore. We're not going to drown 10 feet from the shore. We can see the shore now."

    With some Mets fans apparently not believing in their team after a second straight late-season collapse, only 36,876 showed up to watch the game about 19,000 less than capacity.

    "I don't think anybody in here questioned whether we could do it," John Olerud said. "We are a good team, we just couldn't score runs for a few games. We weren't getting the breaks. Now, we're getting big hits, great pitching and winning some games."

    The fans who did show up were vocal, cheering every pitch. Reed (11-5) brought them out of their seats by striking out the side in the third and kept them there much of the night. He got a standing ovation after hitting a two-run single in the eighth to make it 4-0.

    Reed walked none in pitching his seventh career complete game and fourth shutout, giving the Mets' bullpen a needed rest. Abraham Nunez doubled in the Pirates first and singled in the fourth, and Adrian Brown singled in the ninth.

    "That's as good a game as I've pitched in my life," said Reed, who matched his career low-hit game. "I was hitting my spots. I have been struggling with my control all year. What a time to find it."

    Valentine had used 22 pitchers the last four games and New York relievers pitched 18 2-3 innings during that time. Now, they will all be fresh for Sunday.

    With Reed as sharp as he's been all year and the Mets' bats still in a slumber, runs were at a premium. And the Pirates, playing out the string in their seventh straight losing season, gave New York two unearned runs in the sixth.

    "You envy the teams that are in it," Pirates manager Gene Lamont said. "We hope is sometime soon we'll be playing games that mean more than just being a spoiler."

    Francisco Cordova (8-10) walked Olerud to open the inning. Mike Piazza then hit what should have been a routine double-play ball to third baseman Aramis Ramirez. But Ramirez's throw to second sailed into right field.

    Robin Ventura, who hit a game-winning RBI single in the 11th inning Friday, lined a ground-rule double down the right-field line to make it 1-0.

    One out and an intentional walk to Roger Cedeno laer, Rey Ordonez hit a soft liner to Kevin Young at first base. Young threw wildly to third trying to double up Piazza, who scored on the error.

    Olerud hit an RBI single in the eighth and scored on Piazza's 40th homer.

    Notes

  • Orel Hershiser (13-12) will pitch Sunday against Kris Benson (11-14), who threw a six-hitter to beat the Mets 5-1 on July 27.
  • The Pirates have lost 17 of 21 games at New York.
  • Piazza's 40 homers and 124 RBIs tie career highs set in 1997.
  • Ordonez, who extended his major league record by playing his 98th straight errorless game at shortstop, made a sensational diving catch in shallow left field to rob Al Martin of a hit in the sixth.
  • Reed's last shutout was a three-hitter against Tampa Bay on June 8, 1998.

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

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