Mets 7, Yankees 6

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NEW YORK (AP)—David Wright turned around Mariano Rivera’s cutter, and Johnny Damon turned and ran toward the center-field wall. He never caught up.

Wright’s RBI single with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning capped a comeback from a four-run deficit against Randy Johnson and gave the Mets a thrilling 7-6 victory over the Yankees on Friday night in the first Subway Series game of the year.

“There’s nothing better,” Wright said. “New York’s the greatest baseball stage.”

Carlos Beltran hit a three-run homer in the first and Xavier Nady hit a two-run drive in the third off the Big Unit, tying the game at 5. That charged up the raucous sellout crowd of 56,289, with Mets’ and Yankees’ fans exchanging cheers and insults right until Wright’s ball landed on the warning track.

“Not too many guys do that against Mariano,” Mets manager Willie Randolph said. “He’s the best.”

Johnson gave up six runs and eight hits in five innings, and the ERA of the 42-year-old left-hander is up to 5.62.

“I’m not too old. My stuff’s not that bad. I’m not dominating right now. It’s a very humbling game,” he said. “I’m making the wrong pitch at the wrong time.”

He has allowed four runs or more in five straight starts for the first time in his major league career, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

“Each Randy start, I get more concerned,” said Yankees manager Joe Torre, who thinks bad outings are weighing on the Big Unit.

On a night when Mets starter Jeremi Gonzalez got just nine outs, Darren Oliver, Aaron Heilman and Billy Wagner (3-0) combined for six innings of shutout, two-hit relief. They retired the Yankees’ final 16 batters—striking out eight and allowing just one ball out of the infield. Wagner struck out Jason Giambi, Alex Rodriguez and Kelly Stinnett in the ninth.

“You just feel like the momentum was shifting,” Wright said.

While the NL East-leading Mets played Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” when Wagner came in, they didn’t play it three outs later when Rivera (1-3) entered — it’s also his theme song.

One pitch after hitting the dirt when Rivera came inside, Paul Lo Duca doubled down the left-field line to put a runner on second with one out.

Beltran struck out on three pitches, and left-handed-hitting Carlos Delgado was intentionally walked to bring up the right-handed Wright.

“Definitely, it sticks with you,” Wright said. “You want to make the other team pay.”

Wright remembered back to Wednesday, when he struck out against St. Louis Cardinals closer Jason Isringhausen with the bases loaded and one out in the ninth, a game the Mets lost 1-0.

He fell behind in the count 1-2, took a ball, then drove the next pitch over Damon.

“The way Johnny covers ground out there, you never know,” Wright said. “As he kind of turned and ran, I kind of had a clue that either he was going to make a miraculous play or it was going to bounce.”

Both teams are pretty banged up heading into the final two games.

With outfielders Hideki Matsui, Gary Sheffield and Bubba Crosby sidelined, and pitcher Carl Pavano needing surgery to remove a bone chip above his right elbow, the Yankees had even more injury news.

Catcher Jorge Posada left after 1 1/2 innings because of a sore upper back that prevented him from throwing to second, outfielder Bernie Williams won’t start Saturday because of a tight buttocks muscle and Kyle Farnsworth came out after one inning Friday because of lower back soreness.

Run-scoring singles by Derek Jeter and Rodriguez, and RBI doubles by Robinson Cano and Williams built the 4-0 lead in the first—which ended when Gonzalez struck out Johnson.

After Robinson Cano hit a sacrifice fly in the third, the Big Unit had a two-out, infield single that loaded the bases—a ball that shortstop Jose Reyes knocked down with a dive and prevented from becoming an RBI single.

Damon followed with an inning-ending flyout and, after Stinnett made it 6-5 with an RBI single in the fourth, the Yankees left the bases loaded again when Melky Cabrera grounded out. Williams, the previous batter, was held to an infield single when Reyes again dove to keep a ball in the infield.

“Those are huge plays,” Randolph said. “You have to keep the ball in the infield.”

Kaz Matsui retied it in the fifth with an RBI single off Johnson.

All the while, Wright was enjoying the scene in the stands.

“The fans came out in full force. They’re battling against each other. Just the energy. I think the players feed off the energy,” he said. “You can say as much as you want that it’s just another game—I guess in the win-loss column, it is just another game—but there’s definitely a lot more energy and there’s definitely a lot more adrenaline flowing.”

Notes

Posada was hit hard Tuesday by the Texas RangersMark Teixeira in a home plate collision. … Jeter’s fourth-inning double was his 200th hit in regular-season interleague play. … Williams hit his 425th double, passing Babe Ruth for sole possession of third place among Yankees. … Mets RHP Jose Lima, who had an 8.79 ERA in three starts, was designated for assignment after the game, and replaced by RHP Anderson Garcia.

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