"We haven't had a lot of blowouts this year, so that was a good
sign," Mets manager Bobby Valentine said. "Everyone contributed
and were able to feel good about themselves."
The Yankees took the opener of the three-game set, 11-5, on
Friday to take over first place in the American League East, but
the Mets looked like the best team in New York in this one,
totaling 16 hits -- seven for extra bases.
Criticized for their lack of production despite a roster laden
with stars, the Mets scored in each of the first six innings and
eight of nine overall, doing it in a variety of ways.
"Maybe it's just that they are really coming together now," said
Yankees third baseman Robin Ventura, who was traded from the
Mets over the winter.
With the Mets leading 3-1 in the fourth, Wilson hit a solo homer
off Ted Lilly (3-6). Two batters later, Cedeno tripled, then
scored on a straight steal of home, catching the Yankees
"I just fell asleep at the switch," Yankees manager Joe Torre
said. "He (Lilly) should have been pitching from the stretch.
He's slow when he winds up, and I just didn't react quick
It was the first straight steal of home for the Mets since July
31, 1971, when Tommy Agee victimized the Chicago Cubs. No Met
had stolen home since Todd Hundley did so on the back end of a
double steal against the Yankees on June 16, 1997.
At the center of the Mets' offensive struggles, Vaughn made it
6-1 with a leadoff homer in the fifth. The ball ended up some
20 rows into the upper deck in right field, nailing a Yankee
vendor in the leg.
"When you hit the ball square like that, you know you are doing
some things right, and that is the main thing for me right now,"
said Vaughn, a former AL Most Valuable Player.
It was the fourth home run in 10 at-bats for Vaughn, who is
batting .245 with eight homers and 32 RBI while hitting in the
heart of the order most of the season.
"He looks good right now, really good," Valentine said. "He is
seeing the ball well and hitting for power. Have him and Mike
hit home runs in the same game is a good thing."
While the vendor took the brunt of the impact, the rivalry has
been defined by a beaning of another kind. In 2000, Roger
Clemens hit Piazza in the head with a pitch, then threw a broken
bat in his direction during the World Series.
Piazza added a homer in the sixth as the Mets rolled to their
third win in five meetings with the Yankees this season. With a
victory Sunday night, they can take the season series for the
first time since interleague play began in 1997.
"I don't know if this is a spark for us or not," Leiter said.
"The most important thing is we did our best and won the game.
That's what we did today, and that's what we hope to do tomorrow
Derek Jeter homered for the Yankees, who remained a game in
front of the struggling Boston Red Sox in the AL East but fell
to 10-8 in their last 18 contests.
The Yankees looked lost in front of their home crowd. Alberto
Castillo had a passed ball that led to a run and misplayed
Lilly's pitch on Cedeno's steal of home before Jeter juggled a
grounder at shortstop, leading to a three-run ninth.
The only inning in which the Mets failed to score was the
seventh. Every starter had a hit and scored a run except for
right fielder Jeromy Burnitz, who was 0-for-5.
Lilly was bombed in his first start since tossing a three-hit
shutout, allowing six runs and seven hits with three walks and
two strikeouts over four-plus innings.
"Lilly was good or bad," Torre said. "There was no in-between
with him today."
Leiter (8-6) gave up one run and six hits while walking three
and striking out five against his former team.
"It was nice that we got off to a big early lead, and it helped
me loosen up," he said.
After the teams traded runs in the first inning, the Mets took
the lead for good in the second as Jay Payton tripled and Wilson
followed with an RBI groundout.
They made it 3-1 in the third on a sacrifice fly by John
Valentin. Edgardo Alfonzo started the inning with a single and
went to second on a walk to Piazza before both runners advanced
on Castillo's passed ball.
Wilson hit a one-out homer in the fourth -- his second of the
year -- and Cedeno legged out a two-out triple to set the stage
for his heroics.
After Alfonzo took a first-pitch strike, Cedeno followed the
orders of a boisterous Vaughn and Valentine, breaking for home
as Lilly began his windup.
"It's very easy to recognize his voice," Cedeno said of Vaughn.
"When I looked into the dugout, I also saw Bobby motioning me to
go and he was also hollering for me to go."
Castillo had trouble handling the low breaking ball and Cedeno
slid around the tag, hitting the back left portion of the plate
with his spikes.
"The ball was down and away and he had to field it and come back
and look for the plate at the same time," said Cedeno, who set
the Mets' single-season steal record with 60 in 1999. "He tried
to tag me and missed me."
Vaughn didn't miss in the next inning. After fouling off
Lilly's first pitch, he took three straight balls, then launched
a fastball into the upper deck.
"Maybe that's what I was trying to do the past 2 1/2 months," he
said. "I have been swinging the bat better the past week, and
it is a day-to-day thing."
Piazza added a two-out homer in the sixth for a 7-1 lead and
Alfonzo chipped in an RBI grounder in the eighth.
Enrique Wilson stroked an RBI single in the bottom of the
eighth, but the Mets took advantage of Jeter's error in the
ninth, scoring a run on the miscue and two more on Cedeno's