NEW YORK (AP)—Jesse Orosco looked up as the San Diego team bus pulled into the Shea Stadium parking lot Friday and saw the huge picture.
The photograph of Orosco leaping after striking out Boston’s Marty Barrett to win the 1986 World Series is familiar to Mets’ fans.
What’s unfamiliar is what occurred a few hours later. For the first time in his career, Orosco got a save at Shea Stadium against the Mets.
Orosco struck out Roberto Alomar with runners at the corners and two outs in the ninth inning, finishing San Diego’s 5-4 victory.
“In New York, they don’t forget things,” Orosco said. “You do well here, and they acknowledge that. I left New York on good terms.”
A lot better terms than the current bunch of Mets are on these days.
Orosco, a 46-year-old left-hander, came up to the Mets in 1979 and had 107 saves for New York, the last against Pittsburgh on Sept. 27, 1987. He’s pitched for Los Angeles, Cleveland, Milwaukee, Baltimore and San Diego since then, but never before had saved a game in Shea Stadium as a visitor, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
“Maybe it was Alomar they were cheering,” Mets manager Art Howe said. “No, I know it was Jesse. I remember in ’86, he closed out the series in Houston and then the World Series here. He pitched very well here for a lot of years—actually he’s pitched very well a lot places for a lot of years. He’s a favorite here, no question.”
Orosco nearly threw a wild pitch, but catcher Wiki Gonzalez made a good block. He got Alomar on a changeup.
“This is familiar ground for him,” San Diego manager Bruce Bochy said. “He’s been on that mound before in crisis situations.”
Orosco warmed up four times, starting in the sixth inning. Bochy nearly brought him in with two on and two outs in the seventh to turn around Alomar, a switch-hitter batting .146 against lefties. Bochy decided against it because his other left-handed reliever, Mike Matthews, was unavailable.
“I didn’t want to fire my one bullet,” Bochy said. “It turned out it was a good thing I saved him.”
Orosco, the oldest player in the major leagues, is the last player still active from the Mets’ last championship team. The save was his second this season.
“Everybody asks if I’ll play to age 50,” he said. “It won’t happen. But I’ll consider next year if things go well this year. My teammates, they kind of think I’m a freak playing at 46. Guys playing at age 50, I think they’re a freak.”
San Diego, which stopped a five-game losing streak, went ahead when Xavier Nady broke a 3-all tie in the eighth with a two-run homer off David Weathers (1-2). Rondell White doubled twice and drove in three runs for San Diego, which had lost 10 of 11.
Mark Kotsay, who had singled before the homer, tagged at first and nearly was passed by Nady, who continued up the first base line and waited for his teammate to move on. After Kotsay headed to second, Nady touched first base and continued circling the bases.
“He veered off. Nady did a great job there,” Bochy said.
Mike Piazza returned to catching duties for the Mets. Piazza had a mole removed from his lower abdomen Monday and was limited to one pinch-hitting appearance during a three-game series against Los Angeles. He went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts against the Padres, who converted their only steal attempt when Nady swiped second base in the sixth inning. Nady had three hits.
“I felt pretty good,” Piazza said. “It was good to have a couple of days, but now I have to work on my timing.”
Bynum gave up two hits, including a two-run homer in the third to Alomar after a walk to pitcher Jae Seo. It was Alomar’s first home run since last Aug. 24 at Colorado. Cliff Floyd hit an RBI grounder in the eighth off Herges.
“It was almost like a must-need,” Orosco said. “We have struggled thepast couple of weeks.”
New York has 15 hits during a three-game losing streak and has lost nine of 12 overall. … Tino Perez was announced as a pinch hitter for Tsuyoshi Shinjo in the seventh, but then Roger Cedeno pinch hit and singled. Umpires, according to Bochy, ruled Perez was never officially in the game because Howe tried to call him back but Perez never heard in noisy Shea Stadium. … Cedeno was thrown out by Nady in the seventh after taking too wide a turn on Sanchez’s single to right. … Seo, winless in four starts since April 17, gave up three runs and six hits in five innings. … The Mets optioned C Jason Phillips toTriple-A Norfolk after the game and intend to bring up a pitcher Saturday.