Mo-mentum building as Mets rout YanksPosted: Saturday June 29, 2002 4:47 PM
Updated: Sunday June 30, 2002 1:56 AM
Cedeno scored on a daring dash to the plate, and the rest of the Mets spent most of the afternoon trotting around the bases in Saturday's 11-2 victory over the New York Yankees.
"Bobby yelled, 'Roger, go!'" Cedeno said. "One guy whose voice I can recognize is Bobby's. I looked over at the dugout like, 'You sure?' I just took a chance. I'm glad it worked. You've got to make things happen."
Behind a strong pitching performance from Al Leiter, the Mets evened this Subway Series at a game apiece and have won three of five against their crosstown rivals this season.
More importantly, the Mets avoided losing any more ground in the NL East, remaining 9 1/2 games behind first-place Atlanta.
"Right now, every win is big for us," said Jay Payton, who had three hits. "We've got to start winning as many games as we can and chip away at Atlanta."
Leiter (8-6) shut down the powerful Yankees, who lead the majors with 125 homers. He gave up a solo shot to Derek Jeter in the first but scattered just five other hits over seven sharp innings to lower his ERA to 2.95.
Cedeno tripled with two outs in the fourth and danced off third as Ted Lilly (3-6) worked from the windup. He took off on the second delivery to Edgardo Alfonzo, and Yankees catcher Alberto Castillo appeared to have trouble handling the low pitch.
"That was me. I just fell asleep at the switch," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "He should have been pitching from the stretch."
Once Castillo gathered the ball, he lifted his glove and lunged toward Cedeno, who slid under the tag to the corner of the plate. Plate umpire Larry Young signaled safe, and the Mets fans among the sellout crowd of 55,615 broke into a big cheer.
"I had no clue he was coming," Castillo said. "Lilly looked at him twice, but I didn't know until just at the end. I went down to catch the ball and tagged him. He never touched home plate, I don't know how he could be safe."
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the first straight steal of home by the Mets since Tommie Agee did it July 31, 1971, against the Chicago Cubs.
"It was fun to watch," Mets outfielder Jeromy Burnitz said. "It's not something you see very often. That's definitely a big play, and it can take the wind out of their sails."
Cedeno, signed as a free agent last winter, has just 11 stolen bases this season after finishing second in the AL with 55 for Detroit last year. It was the first time he ever tried to steal home.
"Bobby's like that," Vaughn said. "He sees things and makes the right call."
Cedeno finished with three hits, including a two-run single.
Vaughn homered deep into the right-field upper deck leading off the fifth, chasing Lilly. It was Vaughn's ninth homer of the year and fourth in three games after struggling for most of the season's first half.
"I guess it just took some time," he said. "I'm starting to feel pretty good about it. I think now I'm just up there in a rocking chair, letting the ball come to me. I knew I could do these things, I've done it in the past."
Vaughn also doubled off the very top of the center-field fence in the sixth.
"It should've went out," he said. "You hit the ball that far, it's not supposed to hit the top of the fence like that."
Piazza, the designated hitter for the second straight game, added a solo shot off Ramiro Mendoza in the sixth to make it 7-1. The Mets also hit three home runs Friday night and have gone deep in 10 consecutive games.
Lilly, coming off a three-hit shutout of San Diego, was roughed up for six runs -- five earned -- and seven hits in four-plus innings. With Orlando Hernandez's impressive return from the disabled list in relief Friday night, he could be in jeopardy of losing his spot in the rotation.
"Lilly was good or bad. There was no in-between with him today," Torre said. "It was a little mystifying."
Notes: The Mets are 12-17 against the Yankees since interleague play began in 1997. ... The Yankees had just 23 players available because OF Shane Spencer and INF Ron Coomer are nursing injuries. ... Enrique Wilson played right field for the Yankees, his first career start in the outfield. ... Castillo threw Cedeno out trying to steal second in the sixth. ... Leiter improved to 5-7 lifetime against his former team. ... Yankees DH Jorge Posada came out with a bruised left knee after fouling a pitch off it in the seventh. He said he expects to play Sunday night.