Diamondbacks 2, Mets 1

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PHOENIX (AP)—Something special happened when Steve Finley and Stephen Randolph least expected it.

Finley hit a leadoff homer in the bottom of the ninth inning to lead the Arizona Diamondbacks to a 2-1 victory over the New York Mets on Saturday night.

Finley pulled a 2-2 pitch from John Franco an estimated 398 feet into the right-field seats, sending the Diamondbacks to their fifth win in seven games.

“I’ve faced him my fair share of times,” Finley said. “But I wasn’t thinking anything. I was just looking for something over the plate I could hit. I wasn’t trying to hit a homer, and just got good extension on a slider that was out over the plate.”

Randolph (6-0), who allowed one hit in two innings for the victory, was talking to pitching coach Chuck Kniffin about getting ready to work the 10th inning and didn’t watch Finley at the plate.

“(Kniffin) was telling me, `You know, you’re going back out there to start it,’ and I was like, `That’s fine. Let me go,”’ Randolph said. “And I looked up, and a swing of the bat and everybody’s jumping around so I just jumped on the bandwagon.”

Rod Barajas drove in Arizona’s first run with a sacrifice fly in the third.

Joe McEwing’s RBI single in the fourth tied it for the Mets, who had won two straight. Franco (0-3) allowed one run and two hits in one inning.

“I had a bad pitch tonight and paid for making a bad pitch,” Franco said.

Elmer Dessens, who hadn’t started since beating Los Angeles 1-0 on July 26, worked 6 1-3 innings for Arizona, allowing seven hits and one run. His shot at back-to-back wins ended when he walked Jeff Duncan to start the seventh.

After a sacrifice bunt by McEwing and Cliff Floyd came in as a pinch-hitter, Dessens was yanked for left-handed specialist Mike Myers.

Mets manager Art Howe responded by replacing Floyd at the plate with Raul Gonzalez, who was intentionally walked.

Oscar Villarreal then came in and got Roger Cedeno to ground into a double play to end the threat.

“Jae Seo pitched a real solid game for us, and it’s too bad we couldn’t get a run for him there in the seventh inning and get him a win, but it was just that kind of a game,” Howe said. “I think the double plays hurt us.”

Seo allowed four hits and one run in six innings, but extended his winless streak to nine starts since beating Florida 5-0 as part of a team one-hitter June 17.

Third baseman Ty Wigginton, a defensive replacement in the sixth, may have temporarily saved the game for the Mets in the eighth, when he fielded Craig Counsell’s bunt and threw to second to force Matt Kata, who had a leadoff single.

Counsell reached third on Luis Gonzalez’s sharp single into right center, but Shea Hillenbrand completed an 0-for-4 night by hitting into an inning-ending double play.

The Diamondbacks scored two or fewer runs for the 14th time in 20 games, a stretch in which they slipped behind in the NL wild-card race while going 7-13.

“You do what you have to do,” manager Bob Brenly said. “Thank goodness our pitching has been as good as it has.”

Arizona’s Alex Cintron led off the third with a triple and scored on Barajas’ fly to center field.

Three of four batters—Tony Clark, Timo Perez and Duncan—hit weak singles to load the bases before McEwing’s two-out single to short left field tied itin the fourth. Clark scored, but Luis Gonzalez nailed Perez at the plate.


Mets 3B Jay Bell, who scored the winning run for Arizona in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series, got a big ovation when he stepped to the plate in the second inning, but there was less clapping when he singled. … Counsell had an MRI on his sore neck Saturday morning and returned to the lineup, reassured there were no complications from neck surgery 11 months ago. … Mets SS Jose Reyes, a rookie, extended his hitting streak to a season-high 10 games with a first-inning single. … Clark left in the sixth after he bruised his shoulderwhen he was hit by a hard grounder off Luis Gonzalez’s bat.

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