Mets snap Braves' six-game winning streak


NEW YORK (AP) -- Steve Trachsel's smooth start couldn't have
ended more wildly for the New York Mets.

Trachsel retired the first 15 batters and hit his first career
triple, and the Mets took advantage of Greg Maddux's replacement to
build a seven-run lead by the end of the fifth inning.

Then Trachsel, who was developing a blister on the index finger
of his right hand during his brilliant run, surrendered a homer to
Javy Lopez on the first pitch of the sixth inning, and New York
needed five relievers -- four in the eighth alone -- to close out the
Braves 7-4 and end their six game-winning streak.

''That was really something, boy,'' Mets manager Bobby Valentine
said. ''I think we're the most exciting team in baseball.''

The Mets, desperate not to lose any more ground to the NL
East-leading Braves, called on closer Armando Benitez for his first
five-out save of the season.

Benitez helped the Mets escape a bases-loaded, one-out jam in
the eighth inning, then struck out Gary Sheffield with two runners
on to end it.

''I tried to hit my spots very good,'' Benitez said. ''One
mistake tonight was the game.''

The Mets have split the first two of a four-game series with
Atlanta. New York trails the Braves by 7 games.

Roberto Alomar homered in his first at-bat, Mike Piazza doubled
with the bases loaded and Rey Ordonez tied a season high with three
hits for New York. The Mets scored more than five runs for the
first time since beating the Yankees 8-0 on June 15.

The Mets scored seven runs in the first five innings, all off
Albie Lopez, who was making his first start since May 4 and fourth
of the season.

Lopez (1-4), primarily a starter the past two seasons, was
pitching in place of Maddux, who has a lingering left-calf problem.

''It's hard to spot start, especially when you haven't started
in months,'' Braves manager Bobby Cox said. ''He had some good
innings -- he looked real good in the fourth.''

Trachsel (6-6), who retired the first 19 Minnesota batters in
his last outing, once again got off to a good start. He did not
permit a runner until Lopez homered to lead off the sixth inning.

The last pitcher to retire first 15 batters in consecutive
starts was Doyle Alexander for New York Yankees in 1976.

''I don't think I ever did (thought about another chance at a
no-hitter),'' Trachsel said. ''It was too soon.''

The blister began to bother Trachsel in the fourth.

''We didn't want to get into a situation where he'd miss another
start,'' Valentine said.

Down 7-4, the Braves tried to rally in the eighth as they loaded
the bases with no outs.

Bobby Jones, the third reliever of the inning got pinch-hitter
Chipper Jones -- out of the starting lineup with back spasms -- on a
shallow fly ball for the first out.

''That was the matchup,'' Cox said. ''He (Chipper) was 3-for-5
with a home run. That's the matchup I wanted.''

Chipper Jones didn't blame his back for the out.

''I got a good pitch and I just missed it,'' he said.

Benitez came in and got the final two outs of the inning,
striking out Lopez to the loud approval of the 31,607 fans at Shea
Stadium. Benitez finished for his 19th save in 21 innings.

Alomar opened the scoring with a homer in the first and New York
added three runs in the second, all with two outs. Trachsel hit an
RBI triple past Sheffield's slide in right field.

Piazza hit his two-run double in the fifth off reliever Kerry

Game notes
Mets OF Roger Cedeno was taken out of the game in the sixth
inning with a mild contusion to the left knee. At the start of the
game, Cedeno and Alomar had words in the dugout, and Mo Vaughn
stepped between them. Valentine did not detail what the tiff was
about, but said the issue had been resolved. ... The last Mets
pitcher to hit a triple was Al Leiter, who did it on Aug. 31
against the Florida Marlins. ... Maddux will start Friday night at