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Rogers' 9 IP Puts Mets In 1st


Kenny Rogers got encouragement from his fellow pitchers and a blessing from manager Bobby Valentine. Then he went out and finished what he started.

Rogers pitched the Mets' first complete game of the season stopping their drought one short of the major league record and New York beat the San Francisco Giants 12-5 Sunday.

"The other starters staged a little battle cry and gave him a pep talk when he came in after the eighth," Valentine said. "Then they came over to me and said he was going out there. He was kind of cruising. I didn't see any reason to use anybody else out there and he said he felt fine."

And with that, Rogers (2-0) snapped the Mets' string without a complete game at 139, one shy of the record set by the Anaheim Angels earlier this year.

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Game Summary

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  • Robin Ventura hit his third grand slam of the season and Mike Piazza homered for the third straight day. Livan Hernandez (6-11) fell to 0-5 against the Mets this year.

    Edgardo Alfonzo, who had missed two games while attending his uncle's funeral in Venezuela, homered and drove in four runs for New York.

    The Mets remained tied with Atlanta atop the NL East. The Braves beat Los Angeles 5-4 in 11 innings Sunday night.

    The last Mets pitcher to go the distance was Al Leiter on Sept. 4.

    "It was an incentive to finish the game but it wasn't my objective," Rogers said. "When they scored all the runs in the fifth and sixth, I knew I was going to stay in thre until I had to come out. And (Valentine) knew I wanted to finish it."

    So did the other starters, including Leiter, who pumped up Rogers before he went out to pitch the final inning.

    "I was just saying, `Three more outs. Let's get the complete game,"' Leiter said. "There has been so much talk about this. We take pride in the fact we're a good rotation and that was kind of a negative number. But you get one, and you don't have to deal with the questions."

    Rogers gave up 12 hits, struck out eight and walked none. He pitched three complete games for Oakland before being traded to the Mets on July 23.

    Ramon Martinez and Barry Bonds hit consecutive home runs for the Giants in the third.

    "It's nice to have a complete game and save the bullpen a little bit," Ventura said. "He stayed out there a little longer than he normally would have and he helped us out."

    The Mets improved to a major league-best 45-19 since June 6. San Francisco lost for the 21st time in 30 games.

    "We've got to bear down and be sharper and tougher," San Francisco manager Dusty Baker said. "We need to keep fighting. Don't quit, that's the main thing."

    Hernandez, who was 0-4 against the Mets with Florida this year, took a 3-1 lead into the fifth. But he allowed a two-out, RBI single to Alfonzo and then walked John Olerud and Piazza before Ventura connected for his 27th homer.

    "He usually gets out of those kinds of jams. He made one bad pitch to Robin Ventura," Baker said. "When we make a mistake, they're not missing it. They're all a cross between Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth. Everybody was wailing away. No thoughts of repercussions. We can't keep letting people beat our brains in."

    Ventura has 13 career slams, tying Baltimore's Harold Baines for the lead among active players. Ventura's two other slams came against Milwaukee on May 20, connecting in both games of a doubleheader.

    Alfonzo led off the seventh with his 18th homer, finishing Hernandez. Alan Embree relieved and gave up a single to Olerud followed by Piazza's 26th home run.

    Piazza has been on an offensive tear, going 12-for-18 (.667) in his last four starts with three home runs and nine RBIs.

    Alfonzo added a two-run single in the eighth and Piazza singled to drive in his third run.

    Notes

  • The Mets are tied with Atlanta for the major league lead with 72 wins.
  • Every Mets starter had at least one hit.
  • Alfonzo's 18 home runs are a career high.
  • Mets outfielder Roger Cedeo left the game in the fourth inning with a strained right hand. His status was described as day-to-day.
  • The consecutive home runs by Martinez and Bonds marked the fourth time this season the Giants have hit back-to-back homers. The most recent was against Los Angeles on June 27 when J.T. Snow and Ellis Burks did it. .. Hernandez has hit safely in eight of his last nine starts, going 9-for-27 (.333).

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

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