Archive for Thursday, May 6, 2004

Piazza enters record book

Mets slugger breaks catcher home run mark

May 6, 2004

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— Mike Piazza held his home run ball and cracked a satisfied smile.

Now some other catcher can try to chase HIS record.

"I'm very proud of this," Piazza said. "It's just a thrill."

Piazza set a major league mark for home runs as a catcher Wednesday night, and Shane Spencer hit a tiebreaking, three-run shot in the eighth inning of the New York Mets' 8-2 victory over the San Francisco Giants.

Barry Bonds was not in San Francisco's starting lineup for the third straight game because of a sinus infection, disappointing many of the 19,974 fans who showed up at Shea Stadium on a rainy night.

But Piazza made it worth their while, breaking Carlton Fisk's record with his 352nd homer as a catcher. He drove a 3-1 pitch from Jerome Williams off the bottom of the scoreboard in right-center in the first inning for a 1-0 Mets lead.

"It's maybe a little more significant at catcher because of the physical demands of the position," Piazza said. "Just relief, because I wanted to get it done and just move on. It's a little bit of a crossroads for me."

The 10-time All-Star received a warm greeting in the dugout from his teammates and bounced out for a curtain call.

"It's always nice to be part of history, even if you're just there to shake hands," Mets manager Art Howe said. "And it wasn't a cheapie."

Piazza kept the ball as a souvenir, but his bat is headed to the Hall of Fame.

Mets catcher Mike piazza watches the flight of his home run against
San Francisco. The homer was Piazza's 352nd as a catcher, a major
league record. The Mets defeated the Giants, 8-2, Wednesday night
in New York.

Mets catcher Mike piazza watches the flight of his home run against San Francisco. The homer was Piazza's 352nd as a catcher, a major league record. The Mets defeated the Giants, 8-2, Wednesday night in New York.

"I'm so proud to be in that company with the great catchers that played this game," he said. "It's definitely a special position. And I'm glad I did it at home."

Mike Cameron also connected for the Mets, who won their third straight for the first time this season.

The game was delayed by rain for 1 hour, 19 minutes after the fifth inning, and maybe 1,000 fans were left to see Spencer give the Mets a 5-2 lead with a two-out drive to center off Matt Herges.

Cameron added a two-run shot for his sixth of the season, making it 7-2, and Kaz Matsui's RBI single capped the six-run rally. Seven straight batters reached safely -- all with two outs.

Astros 6, Pirates 2

Houston -- Roger Clemens moved into second place on the career strikeouts list behind fellow Houston-area native Nolan Ryan, and became the first six-game winner in the majors to lead the Astros over Pittsburgh.

Clemens struck out Raul Mondesi swinging in the fifth inning to pass Hall of Fame left-hander Steve Carlton with No. 4,137.

The Rocket finished the night with nine strikeouts to run his career total to 4,140.

The crowd of 35,883 at Minute Maid Park -- strangely enough the first non-sellout with Clemens on the mound -- gave Clemens a long standing ovation after he fired the 89 mph split-fingered pitch past Mondesi.

Clemens (6-0) briefly acknowledged the cheers by tipping his cap to the fans.

Ryan tops the strikeout list with 5,714.

Clemens won his 316th career game, putting him only two behind Phil Niekro for 14th place.

Reds 5, Brewers 4 (10)

Cincinnati -- Juan Castro hit a pinch homer in the bottom of the 10th inning, giving Cincinnati a victory that dramatically stopped its losing streak against Milwaukee. The Reds had lost their last five games and 10 of their last 11 against Milwaukee.

Adam Dunn tied it with a solo homer in the eighth, his 10th of the season. After both teams squandered chances to win it, Castro ended it with his first homer off Jeff Bennett (1-2).

Rockies 2, Expos 0

Montreal -- Joe Kennedy gave Colorado's new four-man rotation a great start, allowing only one hit over six scoreless innings and leading the Rockies over Montreal. With a major league-high 6.38 ERA going into the game, Rockies manager Clint Hurdle had already decided to go with only four starters for the rest of the month. Kennedy (4-0) pitched on three days' rest, giving up just Juan Rivera's single in the second inning.

Mark Sweeney pinch-hit for Kennedy in the seventh with runners on first and second and doubled on a 3-2 pitch from Zach Day (2-3) to drive in the game's only runs.

Marlins 2, Dodgers 0

Miami -- Brad Penny pitched 72/3 shutout innings to become Florida's career leader in victories, and the Marlins broke a four-game losing streak by beating Los Angeles. The Marlins blew leads of at least two runs in each defeat during their skid, and they again jumped ahead 2-0 in the first inning against Jeff Weaver (1-4). This time Penny protected the lead, allowing just four hits and one walk.

Phillies 5, Cardinals 4

Philadelphia -- David Bell tied a career-high with four RBIs, including a three-run homer, leading Philadelphia over St. Louis. Kevin Millwood (3-2) pitched seven innings and Marlon Byrd homered for Philadelphia (12-13). The Phillies, preseason favorites to win the NL East, haven't been at .500 since they were 1-1.

Scott Rolen had two hits and three RBIs against his former team. Rolen is hitting .414 (24-for-58) against the Phillies since he was traded to St. Louis in 2002.

Diamondbacks 2, Cubs 0

Chicago -- Rookie Casey Daigle outpitched Kerry Wood for his first career victory, leading Arizona over Chicago. Steve Finley continued his torment of the Cubs, hitting his sixth homer in nine days against them, driving in a run and making a clutch defensive play to end a Chicago rally in the eighth inning. Finley now has 19 career home runs against the Cubs.

Just 23 and in his first year in the majors, Daigle (1-1) has been known as much for his fiancee, star softball pitcher Jennie Finch, as his arm. But that's going to change if he keeps pitching like this.

Wood (3-2) was dazzling, striking out eight and allowing only three hits in seven innings.

Padres 2, Braves 0

Atlanta -- David Wells turned in another dominating performance against Atlanta, pitching seven scoreless innings and even beating out a bunt single in San Diego's win over the Braves. Wells (2-2) has made three career starts against the Braves, and won them all.

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