Mets 4, Padres 3

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NEW YORK (AP)—Mike Piazza hit the ball so well, he turned the cheers to boos. He almost turned the game in the San Diego Padres’ favor, too.

Piazza hit two more home runs off Pedro Martinez, receiving a rare curtain call on the road after the first shot, then drawing a few catcalls after he connected again.

Piazza nearly won it, but his bid for a three-run homer fell barely short in the eighth inning, and the New York Mets held off the Padres 4-3 Wednesday night.

“It just wasn’t meant to be,” he said.

Said Mets manager Willie Randolph: “I thought he got it.”

A day after Piazza was showered with ovations in his return to Shea Stadium, Martinez (9-4) and the 49,979 fans again saluted him. At least, at the start when he homered and threw out a runner trying to steal.

“I think after the second one, it wasn’t as warm,” Piazza said. “I felt the energy shift.”

Jose Reyes was in the middle of the Mets’ fourth straight victory. He lined a leadoff double and scored in the first inning, then hit an RBI single off Clay Hensley (7-9) and stole a base the next inning.

Martinez paid homage to Piazza, stepping off the mound and tipping his hat when his former Mets teammate first came to bat.

Piazza responded by tapping his helmet in a similar gesture of respect— remember, they weren’t so friendly a few years ago when Martinez nailed him with a pitch while playing for Boston.

This time, Piazza did all the hitting. His two solo shots gave him six career home runs off Martinez, the most by anyone off the ace.

“It’s not the first time,” Martinez said. “He’s had my number, so far.”

Piazza struck out his first time up, but got even in the fourth inning. In classic Piazza fashion, he took a fast, inside-out swing and lined a drive over the right-center field fence.

The crowd gave Piazza a standing ovation as he rounded the bases, and kept standing as Adrian Gonzalez grounded out. Piazza thought the fans might “settle down,” yet instead they continued to cheer.

Piazza emerged from the dugout, reluctantly, and waved his hand to a big cheer.

“You don’t see that a lot,” he said. “The last thing I want to do is show up the other team. When they ask you to do it, it’s one of those things.”

Martinez didn’t feel slighted at all.

“It was well deserved, well earned, well done by the fans,” he said. “I think players of Mike Piazza’s category that have done what they’ve done deserve the credit.”

Martinez allowed only three hits, but with Piazza coming up, he was pulled after issuing a pair of walks with one out in the eighth. Piazza is 10-for-26 lifetime against Martinez.

Aaron Heilman relieved and Piazza made a bid for another home run, yet his high drive was caught by Carlos Beltran in front of the center-field wall.

“This stadium is so unforgiving if you don’t get everything into it, and that was a prime example,” Piazza said.

He likened it to the final out of the 2000 World Series, when he flied out to deep center against the New York Yankees.

“It was a similar at-bat,” he said.

Piazza has 18 home runs this season, most among major league catchers. He has 415 career homers, moving past Darrell Evans into 39th place, and 37 multihomer games.

Josh Barfield hit a solo home run in the ninth against Billy Wagner, who held on for his 26th save in 31 chances.


Jorge Posada and Ryan Klesko each have four home runs off Martinez. They had been tied with Piazza, the Elias Sports Bureau said. … Piazza became the fifth player to have a multihomer game off Martinez. Philadelphia’s Chase Utley was the last to do it, last Aug. 31, Elias said. … Padres SS Khalil Greene did not start for the fifth straight game because of a sprained left middle finger. … Ricky Ledee, claimed by the Mets on waivers from the Dodgers a day earlier, grounded out as a pinch-hitter. … Martinez earned his 206th career victory. … The Mets scored their 100th first-inning run, most in the majors.

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