Mets’ Playoff Hopes Still Alive

From Associated Press

The reminder in the New York Mets clubhouse was simple yet telling: Bring luggage for three days.

After losing eight of nine games to go from four games up in the National League wild-card race to two back in 10 days, the Met playoff hopes looked almost dead.

How quickly things change.

Rick Reed pitched a three-hitter, struck out a career-high 12 and hit a two-run single as New York defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates, 7-0, Saturday night at New York to tie Cincinnati for the NL wild-card lead.


“We were in dire straits, on the brink of elimination,” New York’s Al Leiter said. “There were still possibilities, but they weren’t good. It just goes to show that talent always rises. One more day like this and we’re in.”

The Mets gathered early at Shea Stadium to watch pitch-by-pitch updates on the Internet of the Reds’ 10-6 loss to Milwaukee and they watched Houston’s 3-0 victory over the Dodgers on clubhouse televisions.

They then went out and won on their own, setting up the biggest game at Shea Stadium since the fifth game of the 1988 NL championship series against the Dodgers--the last playoff game at Shea.

“After the Reds game, I started pacing from the locker room, to the trainer’s room, to the weight room,” Reed said. “I had to be calmed down. . . . The butterflies in my stomach were growing. They were big ones.”

The complicated scenarios have gotten rather simple for the Mets. If they win Sunday against Pittsburgh, they have at least one more game left.

With a loss by either Houston or Cincinnati, that 163rd game will be played in Arizona on Tuesday night as the first game of a best-of-five division series.


If all three teams win, or Cincinnati and New York both lose, the Mets and Reds will meet in a one-game playoff Monday at Cincinnati.

Milwaukee 10, Cincinnati 6--The Brewers scored seven runs in the third inning and defeated the Reds for the second consecutive game at Milwaukee.

Juan Guzman, acquired by the Reds from Baltimore for the stretch run, was shelled for five runs in the third, and he made a critical error that allowed Milwaukee’s inning to stay alive.

Cincinnati’s bullpen, which has carried the Reds this far with usually excellent work, struggled on a chilly fall afternoon at County Stadium. Dennys Reyes relieved Guzman but couldn’t retire a batter, and Stan Belinda gave up two more runs in the fourth inning.

The loss dropped Cincinnati a game behind Houston in the NL Central race.

Adding to Cincinnati’s pains, center fielder Mike Cameron left the game in the fourth inning with a strained left hamstring.

Montreal 13, Philadelphia 3--Vladimir Guerrero hit a pair of three-run homers and his brother, Wilton, connected for his first grand slam to lead the Expos over the Phillies at Philadelphia.

Vladimir Guerrero became the first Expo with 40 home runs in a season, entering the game with 39.

Guerrero homered to left field in the first inning and homered to right in the sixth. It was his third multiple-homer game of the season and fourth of his career.

Florida 1, Atlanta 0--Cliff Floyd got both Florida hits, including a home run in the 10th inning that gave the Marlins a victory at Atlanta.

Four Atlanta pitchers had retired 26 consecutive batters before Floyd hit his 11th home run of the season off Derrin Ebert (0-1) with one out in the 10th.

Floyd was the only Marlin to reach base.

San Francisco 16, Colorado 7--Armando Rios hit two home runs and Marvin Benard had a career-high five hits as the Giants won at Denver in Jim Leyland’s next-to-last game as the Rockies’ manager. J.T. Snow and Ellis Burks also homered for San Francisco.

Arizona 7, San Diego 5--Matt Williams hit a bases-loaded double to cap a six-run seventh inning as the Diamondbacks won at Phoenix.