Mets use their heads to salute rescue workers


PITTSBURGH (AP) -- After tipping their caps to New York's brave
rescue workers, the New York Mets felt a more fitting tribute would
be to wear their hats.

Mike Piazza hit a two-run homer in the eighth inning and the
Mets, wearing caps in honor of New York's firefighters, police and
emergency medical workers, beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 7-5 Tuesday

The Mets came back for their 10th victory in 11 road games. At
73-73, the defending NL champions reached the .500 mark for the
first time since the opening week of the season and moved within
six games of NL East leader Atlanta, which lost 4-3 in

The Mets wore the special hats Monday night for pregame
ceremonies, then got permission from Major League Baseball to wear
them for a game. A Mets season ticket holder, Edmond D. Farrell of
Mineola, N.Y., wrote general manager Steve Phillips, suggesting the
caps as a worthy tribute.

"It's still tough to go out and focus when your hearts and
minds are somewhere else, but we've got a job to do," said Joe McEwing, who homered and drove in two runs. "Hopefully, we put
some smiles on a lot of New Yorkers' faces."

New York trailed 2-0 and 3-1 after giving away two runs on
errors and another on a pair of wild pitches by Kevin Appier, but
came back to win its 19th in 24 games by hitting four home runs.

Todd Zeile added a solo shot in the three-run eighth as Omar Olivares (6-8) allowed homers to two of his first three batters.
Matt Lawton homered in the ninth off Rich Loiselle.

Maybe the Mets were responding to the welcomed news they will
play their three-game weekend series against Atlanta as scheduled
in Shea Stadium, the home ballpark they haven't seen since the day
before Labor Day.

Since then, they have won eight of nine during an extended road
trip that has included two trips to Pittsburgh, one in which they
didn't play a game, and a bus ride back home to tragedy-stricken
New York, again without playing.

For the first time in their two games back from baseball's
week-long layoff resulting from the terrorist attacks, the Mets
reacted with considerable emotion, jumping off their dugout bench
in celebration of Piazza's drive.

"There's been a lot of down emotion, but it's OK to let it out
and turn it around," manager Bobby Valentine said.

Piazza said, "I'm really glad to see the emotion high, that's
the way we've been for the last 25 or so games. We've been really
fired up, it's been kind of a daily thing to see who is going to
get the big hit today."

Before Tuesday, the Pirates hadn't allowed a homer in a
season-high six consecutive games.

"It hurts bad to lose a game like that, so I guess we're
back," Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon said.

McClendon said he liked the Piazza vs. Olivares matchup in the
eighth, even though Olivares hadn't pitched in 10 days. Piazza
seemed fooled for an instant by Olivares' breaking ball away, then
hit it deep into the left-field seats for his 32nd homer.

Jerrod Riggan (3-2) got the victory with 1 1/3 relief innings
despite giving up Brian Giles' 34th homer in the eighth.

Rick White got the final two outs in that inning, and Armando Benitez pitched the ninth for his 40th save in 42 attempts. He is
one save away from matching his club record of 41 set last season.

The Pirates lost their 90th game of the season, the third time
in four years they have done so.

The Mets overcame a sloppy start in which the Pirates get only
one hit, Jason Kendall's leadoff single, in a two-run first.
Throwing errors by second baseman Edgardo Alfonzo and first baseman
Zeile led to the runs.

McEwing's seventh homer cut it to 2-1 in the third, but Rob
Mackowiak, who drove in two runs, hit his third homer in the

The Pirates added another run in the fifth, again after a
Kendall leadoff single, on the two Kevin Appier wild pitches.

Game notes
The announced crowd was 19,285, but the actual attendance
was about 8,000. The series was scheduled for Shea, but was moved
to Pittsburgh only last weekend as New York continues to recover
from the terrorist attacks. ... The Mets have won nine of 11 from
Pittsburgh the last two seasons. ... McEwing reached base four
times on a homer, an RBI double and two walks. ... Pittsburgh is
3-11 at home against the NL East. ... The Mets have won their last
eight series. ... Piazza's homer was his 22nd in 287 career at-bats
against Pittsburgh.