For the first time in 15 starts, Masato Yoshii's effort wasn't wasted.
Yoshii allowed one run in 7 2/3 innings Wednesday night to earn his first win since May 27 and Mike Piazza had a clutch hit for the second consecutive game as the New York Mets beat the Colorado Rockies 2-1.
New York swept the three-game series and won for the 10th time in its last 13 contests. The victory gave the Mets a one-game lead in the National League wild-card race over the Chicago Cubs, who earlier lost to St. Louis.
"Of course I'm happy that I did get a win, personally," Yoshii said. "But I'm more happy that we swept Colorado."
The Rockies lost for the fourth straight time and are 1-5 in their last six games.
Yoshii (5-6) was winless in his last 14 starts, with a record of 0-5 during that period. He allowed only a leadoff homer to Darryl Hamilton, nine hits overall, and struck out six. The right-hander also drew a walk and scored New York's first run.
"He really buckled down after that first batter," Mets manager Bobby Valentine said. "He made great pitches to a great hitting team."
In his 14 previous starts, Yoshii pitched into the sixth inning in all but four games, one of which was delayed by rain. He was plagued by a lack of run support and an inconsistent bullpen, but all of that changed on Wednesday.
"I sure hadn't seen any rut," Valentine said. "He was cosistently good for quite a number of outings. A bad pitch here, a bad pitch there, but not much runs on our half and not much breaks on his half."
Dennis Cook struck out pinch hitter Mike Lansing with the tying run on third to end the eighth. John Franco pitched a perfect ninth for his 27th save. Three of Franco's six blown saves this year have come in relief of Yoshii.
"I didn't mess that onE up for you," Franco told Yoshii through his interpreter.
"Very nice," Yoshii responded in English.
New York's defense, although committing two errors, made some stellar plays behind its starter.
"He pitched well and got out of situations when he had to," Rockies manager Don Baylor said. "Of course, he had some lucky charm on his side, too, when we hit balls right at people."
Colorado threatened to score in the sixth but shortstop Rey Ordonez caught a line drive off the bat of Vinny Castilla and threw to Carlos Baerga at second to get Dante Bichette who had doubled to complete the double play.
Ordonez also made a play on his knees deep in the hole at shortstop and threw out Kirt Manwaring at first to start the seventh.
Bobby Jones (5-7) gave up both runs on five hits and walked four in six innings. The sixth was his only 1-2-3 inning of the night. Curtis Leskanic finished the game for the Rockies.
New York took a 2-1 lead in the third. Yoshii drew a leadoff walk and Tony Phillips followed with a ground-rule double to left center. With one out, John Olerud walked to load the bases.
Piazza, who doubled with the bases loaded Tuesday to help the Mets sweep a doubleheader, singled to score Yoshii. Brian McRae hit a grounder which scored Phillips.
Hamilton drove Yoshii's second pitch of the game into the right-field bullpen for his third homer this season.
The Mets loaded the bases in the fifth, but could not score. Edgardo Alfonzo led off with a walk and was retired at second on a grounder by Olerud.
With two outs, Brian McRae singled and Jermaine Allensworth was hit by a pitch to fill the bases. Baerga grounded into a fielder's choice to end the inning.
Olerud went 1-for-3 to maintain his league-leading .351 average. Bichette, the closest challenger, was 2-4 to raise his average to .344. Larry Walker, third in the race -- batting .337 -- was a late scratch from the Rockies lineup due to an finger injury sustained Tuesday night.
The Rockies stranded at least one runner in all but the first and ninth innings.
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