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Pefectly Leit

Mets ace now 4-0 after win over Pirates

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Posted: Thursday May 11, 2000 11:09 PM

  Al Leiter Al Leiter improved to 4-0 after allowing only one run in a complete game win over Pittsburgh. AP

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Al Leiter isn't just the New York Mets' most consistent starter, he is also their stopper.

The Mets remained unbeaten with Leiter on the mound, getting an eight-hitter from the left-hander and a solo homer and two RBIs from Todd Zeile to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 3-2 on Thursday night.

Leiter (4-0) struck out eight as the Mets improved to 7-0 when he starts this season. The Mets had lost 10 of 14 and were 4-8 on a season-long 13-game road trip until Leiter pitched his first complete game of the season.

"I'm glad he [manager Bobby Valentine] left me in there," Leiter said. "You get in a tempo and you feel comfortable. This is exciting -- you put your heart and soul into it, and you want to get the result."

The Mets scored twice with the help of right fielder Brian Giles' error in the first inning, even though Rickey Henderson was thrown out at home, and Zeile homered leading off the fourth inning.

The Pirates had won four of five and had scored at least 11 runs in each of their last three victories, including a 13-9 decision Wednesday in which they had 20 hits.

Leiter is 3-1 with a 1.20 ERA lifetime against the Pirates, who are 4-7 against left-handers after going 17-30 against them last season.

"Yeah, but we've faced some tough left-handers: Leiter, Mike Hampton, Randy Johnson," Kevin Young said. "Those aren't No. 5 starters."

Five of the first six Mets batters reached base in the first against Jimmy Anderson (1-1), who yielded six hits and three runs -- two earned -- in six innings. Anderson pitched eight shutout innings in beating the Mets 2-0 on April 15.

Henderson, still with the Mets despite clearing waivers the day before, walked to start the first. Derek Bell followed with a double to right but Henderson seemed to get off to a slow start from first and was thrown out at home on a relay throw from Giles to second baseman Mike Benjamin.

Bell advanced to third on the throw and scored as Giles dropped Edgardo Alfonzo's fly ball. The ball seemed to knuckle on Giles, who watched it skip off his glove as Alfonzo took second.

After a groundout and a walk, Zeile lined a run-scoring single to right. Anderson kept the inning from becoming even bigger by getting Benny Agbayani to line out to second with the bases loaded.

Zeile led off the fourth with his third homer.

The Pirates had gotten a run back in the second with first baseman Zeile's throwing error on a rundown play and a pop fly single that fell between second baseman Edgardo Alfonzo and right fielder Agbayani leading to Luis Sojo's run-scoring single. The Mets caught Young halfway between second and third, but he ducked under third baseman Robin Ventura's tag before Zeile threw wildly.

"There were about five outs there," Leiter said. "It's tough enough to get three in an inning, much less five. It's a little frustrating, but as good as we've been defensively, as a pitcher you want to pick the guys up.

"You tell yourself forget about it, quit crying and make pitches."

Chad Hermansen had a pair of hits for the Pirates, including a solo homer on Leiter's first pitch of the fifth. Hermansen began the game batting .192 overall and .103 as a leadoff hitter.

"I'm just trying to make some adjustments and get back to where I should be," Hermansen said. "I feel I belong up here."

The Pirates had a chance to tie it in the sixth, but Wil Cordero, who had walked, elected to stop at third on Sojo's two-out double to right. Pinch-hitter Bruce Aven then hit into an inning-ending force play grounder.

"I think he [Cordero] thought it was going to go over the fence. It looked like he slowed down a little bit," Valentine said. "It was an interesting play, wasn't it?"

Notes: Leiter's only complete game last season came in the one-game wild-card playoff against Cincinnati on Oct. 4. ... The Pirates begin a three-game series at home Friday against the Brewers, who were 6-0 in Pittsburgh last season. ... Cordero singled in the second for his sixth consecutive hit over two nights before grounding out in the fourth. ... The one-run victory was the Mets' eighth this season. ... Their 13-game road trip that ended Thursday night was their longest since a 13-game trip late in the 1995 season. ... The Pirates put RHP Francisco Cordova (elbow) on the 15-day DL and called up LHP Brian O'Connor, who will make his major league debut Saturday night against Milwaukee.


 
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