Struggling Mets Fight To Beat Pirates

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The Mets capitalized on Pittsburgh’s poor relief pitching and got a close call at the plate. And when the game was over, even the lowly Pirates admitted they weren’t expecting many breaks against a first-place team.

Xavier Nady hit a goahead single in the eighth inning and drove in three runs, rallying New York to a 7-6 victory yesterday. Billy Wagner earned his 300th save and Jose Reyes had three hits and two stolen bases for the NL East-leading Mets, who won for only the second time in eight games.

“To come back and win when we’ve been struggling, that shows the character of this team. Never die, just keep playing,” Wagner said. “Right now, every game is a fight.”

David Wright’s two-run single put the Mets on the board.All-Star Tom Glavine failed in his bid to become baseball’s first 12-game winner, but his teammates fought back to take him off the hook for what would have been his first loss since April 24 in San Francisco.

“We haven’t come back in a while, so it was nice to snatch one away,” Willie Randolph said.

Blown out in their previous two games, the Mets trailed 6-4 in the eighth when Carlos Delgado and Wright drew one-out walks from Salomon Torres. Endy Chavez, who replaced injured left fielder Cliff Floyd in the sixth, came through with an RBI double down the left-field line off ex-Met Roberto Hernandez (0-2).

Nady then grounded a single to right for his third hit. Nate McLouth’s strong throw beat Chavez home, but he slid feet-first to the back of the plate and was called safe by umpire Angel Hernandez on a very close play.

Pirates manager Jim Tracy rushed out of the dugout to argue with Angel Hernandez. Tracy threw his cap to the ground near the plate and was immediately ejected.

Duaner Sanchez pitched a scoreless eighth for the win to improve to 5-0 and Wagner got three outs for his 16th save in 20 chances this season, delighting the Fourth of July crowd of 38,487 at Shea Stadium.

The last-place Pirates, who dropped to a major league-worst 9-32 on the road, went ahead 6-4 with three runs in the sixth – helped by Glavine’s leadoff walk and fielding error.

Aaron Heilman walked in the tying run, Jason Bay hit an RBI grounder, and Freddy Sanchez followed with a twoout RBI single.

Glavine, who has won nine consecutive decisions, allowed five runs – three earned – and a season-high 11 hits in five-plus innings.


INDIANS 19, YANKEES 1 Victor Martinez went 5-for-6 and Jhonny Peralta and Travis Hafner each hit two of Cleveland’s six home runs, powering the Indians to a 19-1 rout of the Yankees yesterday night to spoil George Steinbrenner’s 76th birthday.

The win was Cleveland’s largest at home in more than 56 years, since a 21-2 victory over the Philadelphia Athletics on June 18, 1950.

Martinez and Peralta connected for two-run homers in the first inning off Shawn Chacon (4-3) for the suddenly streaking Indians, who scored nine times in the fifth inning and have won four straight.

The Yankees hadn’t given up so many runs on the road since Texas scored 20 on July 18, 1987.

Chacon allowed seven earned runs on six hits (including three homers) while recording four outs. After Ron Villone tossed 2.2 scoreless innings,T.J. Beam gave up 6 runs in less than an inning, Mike Myers gave up three, and Scott Proctor also gave up three.

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