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Updated: Tuesday, September 23, 2003 11:34 PM EDT
MLB RECAP
Pittsburgh Pirates
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Stats: Batting | Pitching
R H E
0 8 0
New York Mets
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Stats: Batting | Pitching
R H E
1 8 0
W Leiter (15-9)
L Wells (9-9)
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NY METS 1, PITTSBURGH 0
 

FLUSHING, New York (Ticker) -- The New York Mets finally got a lead and Al Leiter did not let it go to waste.

Leiter outdueled Kip Wells for his first shutout of the season as the Mets snapped an eight-game losing streak with a 1-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates .

New York went a span of 73 innings without having a lead before Mike Piazza scored on a grounder by Timo Perez in the fourth inning. It was the Mets' first lead since they took a 3-2 edge in the third inning over the Montreal Expos on September 14.

Leiter (15-9) maintained the narrow advantage with his best start of the season, allowing just eight hits and one walk en route to his first shutout since September 11, 2002. He threw 77 of 123 pitches for strikes and struck out six.

"We haven't had a lot of wiggle room in our games and at 1-0, I knew that every pitch I threw had importance to it," he said.

"Al put up nine zeros, I guess that's the secret," Mets manager Art Howe said. "It was a gem. We haven't been scoring, so Al was the guy going out there in the end. In Puerto Rico, I took him out after eight when we were up 1-0 and we lost. So there was no chance he was coming out."

The Mets stranded runners in scoring position in each of the first two innings but finally broke through in the fourth, when Piazza hit a leadoff single and went to third on Tony Clark 's double. Perez followed with a grounder to shortstop Jack Wilson and Piazza jogged home with the game's only run.

Wells (9-9) surrendered just nine hits and one walk before leaving with one out in the eighth inning.

"It seems that I've had quite a few of these close games the second half against quality guys like Al," he said. "It's fun. I have to take solace in the fact that I pitched well."

"Their guy was just a little bit better than ours," Pittsburgh manager Lloyd McClendon said. "You're not going to get a lot of chances in any game from Al."

New York won for just the second time in 18 games and avoided their season-high ninth consecutive loss.

The Mets have won just 64 games this season but became just the fifth team in the majors with two 15-game winners. Steve Trachsel recorded his 15th victory for New York on September 13.

"It's not amazing, it's incredible," Howe said.

Leiter allowed the leadoff batter to reach base in four of the first five innings but did not let a runner past second base in after the second. He surrendered consecutive singles with one out in the seventh before retiring the final eight batters he faced.

"I started the game off kind of shaky," he said. "It seemed like I started the game throwing a lot of my third and fourth-best pitches, but I got that turned around."

Wells loaded the bases before giving way to John Grabow , who struck out pinch hitter Raul Gonzalez . Brian Meadows got out of the inning by retiring Ty Wingginton and Leiter took the mound in the ninth despite the long stay in the dugout.

"I was concerned about the long bottom of the eighth inning, but I still had to go with him in the ninth," Howe said.

"Vern came down in the eighth and asked if I was going out there," Leiter said. "I said 'of course I'm going out there, are you kidding me?' I had no intention of coming out. I had plenty left and the win in sight."


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