Mets 3, Expos 2, 2nd Ld-Writethru

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NEW YORK (AP)—Mike Piazza’s move to first base paid off for the New York Mets.

With a day game after a night game, Thursday almost certainly would have been a day off for Piazza last season.

Instead, the All-Star catcher doubled twice, drove in one run and set up two others, leading the Mets over the still-slumping Montreal Expos 3-2.

For Piazza, who was not always enthusiastic about the first base experiment, it was a productive day.

“This is a game last year that Piazza doesn’t play,” New York manager Art Howe said. “It’s good to have him in there.”

Piazza’s hitting was enough to help the Mets offset an Expos rally in the ninth inning.

His third-inning double led to New York’s first run, and Piazza made it 2-1 in the seventh before pinch-runner Vance Wilson scored the winning run on a two-out double by Mike Cameron.

“It’s a good situation personally to stay in the lineup when I’m swinging the bat well, no matter where I play,” Piazza said. “It’s important if I’m swinging the bat well for me to be in the lineup.”

And Piazza is swinging the bat well even though he has not homered in two weeks. He remains one home run away from Carlton Fisk’s record of 351 for a catcher. Piazza went 11-for-32 (.344) on the homestand and raised his season’s average to .328.

After Montreal tied it in the seventh, the Mets rallied in the bottom half.

Kaz Matsui walked and raced to third when Karim Garcia singled off Chad Bentz (0-1). Fikac got Spencer to fly out, but Piazza came up with runners on the corners and one out.

“We didn’t do what we were supposed to do,” said Montreal manager Frank Robinson, who didn’t want Jeremy Fikac to give Piazza anything to hit. Instead, the reliever put a 2-0 pitch over the plate and Piazza connected for an RBI double and 2-1 lead.

“You have to hope they’re smart enough to execute in certain situations,” Robinson said.

Cameron’s RBI double in the seventh was vital, when ninth-inning errors by Ricky Gutierrez and Shane Spencer got Montreal within a run with two out. But Braden Looper retired pinch-hitter Jamey Carroll with runners on the corners for his fourth save.

That made a winner of Steve Trachsel (2-2), who limited the Expos to four hits in seven innings. His only mistake was an 0-2 pitch with two out in the seventh that Brian Schneider hit off the right field foul pole to tie the game at 1-all.

“It wasn’t supposed to be a strike,” Trachsel said. “It was supposed to be up and in. You let it go and go after the next guy.”

The Expos are the first team not to score more than four runs in any of its first 16 games since the 1968 Chicago White Sox, according to Elias Sports Bureau. Montreal’s 26 runs tie the third-fewest in major league history in 16 games, according to Elias, matching the 1972 Milwaukee Brewers and ahead of only the 1907 Brooklyn Superbas (15) and the 1909 Washington Senators (25).

One of the Expos’ hits was by pitcher John Patterson, who allowed just one run and three hits in six innings. He walked three and struck out five.

The Mets nicked Patterson for a run in the third when Spencer was hit by a pitch with one out. Piazza doubled, and after two Mets runners were thrown out at home the night before, Spencer stopped at third. Jason Phillips’ grounder to first handcuffed Terrmel Sledge and Spencer scored.


The Mets wasted a bases-loaded, none out situation in the first inning. … They loaded the bases again with two out in the fifth on a double by Spencer and walks to Piazza and Phillips. But Cameron flied out to end the inning. … Spencer was hit by pitches in each of his first two at-bats. … After the game, the Expos returned to Montreal for the first time this season.Montreal’s first six home games were played in San Juan.

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