Series: Game 2 of 3

New York leads 2-0 (as of 9/18)

Game 1: Monday, September 17
New York 4Final
Pittsburgh 1
Game 2: Tuesday, September 18
New York 7Final
Pittsburgh 5
Game 3: Wednesday, September 19
New York 9Final
Pittsburgh 2

Mets 7

(73-73, 33-41 away)

Pirates 5

(55-90, 35-38 home)

    7:05 PM ET, September 18, 2001

    PNC Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 

    R H E
    NYM - -
    PIT - -

    W: J. Riggan (3-2)

    L: O. Olivares (6-8)

    S: A. Benitez (40)

    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.

    Todd Zeile

    Todd Zeile comes off first base to field a throw from third baseman Joe McEwing, but the Pirates' Kevin Young beat it.

    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 night.

    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 Philadelphia.

    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 fourth.

    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.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press