NEW YORK (AP) - The place looked gorgeous. The Mets looked lost.
christened Citi Field with a leadoff homer - the only time that's happened in major league history - and the
San Diego Padres
spoiled New York's first game in its glittering new ballpark with a 6-5 victory Monday night.
balked in the go-ahead run and the Mets made several costly mistakes, opening Citi Field the same way they closed Shea Stadium:
with a dud.
said. ''Winning will do a lot more than the park.''
Gerut's shot off
marked the first time that the first batter homered in the opening game at a big league ballpark, according to the Elias Sports
''Very cool,'' Gerut said. ''Maybe at the end of the season when I look back on this, I'll have a greater sense of what happened
here. But at the time, all I'm thinking is that it put us ahead.''
Wright rallied New York from an early four-run hole with a three-run homer that tied it, but it wasn't enough.
, both former Mets relievers, closed out the fifth straight win for surprising San Diego, expected to be one of baseball's
worst teams this year.
also homered for the Padres, who improved to 6-2.
The Mets are looking for more success at $800 million Citi Field than they had at big Shea, where they spent 45 seasons that
produced two World Series championships - and consecutive September collapses the past two years.
The Mets lost to Florida in the Shea finale last season, eliminating them from playoff contention. They haven't been any better
in their stadium openers - New York dropped its first game at the old Polo Grounds (1962) and at Shea Stadium (1964), both
by 4-3 scores to Pittsburgh.
Wide-eyed fans filed in Monday through the stately Jackie Robinson Rotunda, many snapping photos and searching for souvenirs
only steps from where Shea Stadium was razed to make room for Citi Field's parking lot.
Pregame ceremonies included Hall of Famer
and former New York catcher
walking in together from the bullpen, both wearing Mets jerseys. Seaver threw out the first pitch to Piazza, a strike, and
pumped his fist.
Both players autographed the ball, which is headed to the Hall of Fame.
With its intricate brickwork and charming archways, Citi Field was designed to invoke the warmth of Ebbets Field, beloved
home of the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1913-57.
Even the team mascot, Mr. Met, has his own room under the stands.
''It's impressive. It's a nice place. It's such a stark, dramatic change from Shea Stadium,'' said Padres Hall of Famer
, now an executive vice president and senior adviser for San Diego.
The Mets tested out the cozy ballpark with two exhibition games April 3-4 against Boston. But this was the real thing, and
it certainly didn't go as planned.
Gerut pulled Pelfrey's third pitch down the right-field line, stunning a sold-out crowd of 41,007. The first hit at Shea Stadium
also was a home run, by Pirates Hall of Famer
off ''Fat Jack'' Fisher on April 17, 1964.
''That's probably the only place in the yard where I can get it out. This park plays pretty big,'' Gerut said.
Indeed, Wright and
hammered long drives to center that Gerut caught near the fence, balls that probably would have left most big league parks
- including Shea.
Pelfrey looked out of sorts all night in his team's new digs. He caught a cleat on the mound in mid-delivery, sending the
6-foot-7 right-hander tumbling awkwardly to the turf in the second inning with Padres starter
at the plate.
Pelfrey wasn't hurt, so he tried to waive off manager
and a team trainer. They came out to check on him anyway.
''I asked them if the game was on TV. It was pretty embarrassing,'' Pelfrey said.
Silva then slapped a two-out single, sparking a three-run rally that included
's two-run double and
' soft RBI single.
Gonzalez gave San Diego a 5-1 cushion with a fifth-inning homer against Pelfrey that caromed off the screen attached to the
right-field foul pole.
''We just haven't seen the life in those pitches,'' Manuel said. ''We'll have to really sit down and see if there's anything
wrong with him.''
The Mets finally revved up their fans in the bottom of the fifth.
hit an RBI single and Wright reached down to yank a full-count pitch over the retired numbers above the 364-foot sign on the
The homer tied it at 5 and chased Silva, a 32-year-old rookie. It also raised - for the first time during a game - the shiny
red apple nestled behind the center-field wall. The old apple was a staple at Shea, weather-beaten but always a favorite touch
The Mets, however, gave away the decisive run in the sixth.
opened the inning with a long fly to right that glanced off
's glove for a three-base error. Two outs later, Feliciano balked home a run that put the Padres up 6-5.
Murphy dropped a deep fly to left on Sunday in Florida, leading to two runs in a 2-1 loss.
''Right now it just seems like we're a little off. We're not playing a complete game,'' Wright said.
(1-1) retired his only batter for his first major league win. Sanchez worked a perfect eighth and Bell pitched a 1-2-3 ninth
for his fourth save.
Notes: Across town, the new Yankee Stadium opens Thursday with a game against Cleveland. ...
is slated to get his first Mets start Wednesday night in right field.