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BASEBALL EXTRA | ROUNDUP

Mets Bail Out Struggling Franco Again

June 23, 1997|From Associated Press

For the second time in four days, the New York Mets saved John Franco.

Carl Everett hit a three-run home run with two outs in the 10th inning and the New York Mets, despite another blown save by Franco, defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates, 12-9, Sunday at New York.

"Plain and simple, I stunk," Franco, 36, said.

Pittsburgh trailed, 9-7, in the ninth, but rallied to tie it against Franco. Tony Womack and Adrian Brown singled, and after Mark Smith grounded into a double play, Kevin Young walked and stole second. Joe Randa followed with a tying double over left fielder Butch Huskey's head.

Franco threw his glove and hat when he returned the bench, and also tossed a water cooler.

"Every year I get into a rut, and this is probably it--I hope," he said. "Last season it happened in April when I blew two saves against Colorado. I fought through it then and I'll do it again."

On Thursday night, he gave up a tying three-run homer to Pittsburgh's Dale Sveum with two outs in the ninth, a game the Mets recovered to win, 7-6. The previous day, he gave up Tino Martinez's game-winning single in the 10th at Yankee Stadium.

"I've had him pitching too many days in a row and it has probably caught up to him," Mets Manager Bobby Valentine said. "He has pitched five times in a row, including yesterday in the bullpen, and that's too many.

"The good sign is that we won the two games he blew. Obviously I don't want that to be a trend."

The Mets completed their first four-game sweep at Shea Stadium since 1986, also against Pittsburgh. The Pirates lost their season-high sixth in a row, and have dropped eight of nine.

Atlanta 12, Philadelphia 5--Chipper Jones hit one of Atlanta's four home runs during a nine-run third inning, but later was helped off the field after injuring his left knee in an infield collision at Philadelphia.

The Phillies lost their eighth in a row. Jones, Fred McGriff, Michael Tucker and Jeff Blauser homered in Atlanta's biggest inning since 1989.

Jones, who missed the 1994 season because of a torn anterior cruciate ligament in the same knee, was injured when first baseman Mike Mordecai ran into him on a popup by Rico Brogna in the eighth inning.

Jones, an All-Star third baseman, was hit by Mordecai's right knee. Mordecai made the catch, but Jones had to have support under both shoulders to make it to the dugout.

The Braves said Jones had a sore knee, but that it appeared to be structurally sound. He will be re-evaluated today.

Greg Maddux (9-3) helped himself with a two-run double in the third. Jones went four for five and Blauser homered and hit two doubles as the Braves completed a three-game sweep.

St. Louis 5, Cincinnati 2--Alan Benes can be forgiven for being frustrated about some of his recent outings.

He lost his last start, 1-0, on a ninth-inning home run, and pitched a one-hitter earlier this season against Atlanta and still lost.

Benes appeared to be headed for another tough loss Sunday, but the Cardinals held on at St. Louis.

Benes (7-6) gave up two runs in eight innings before giving way to relief pitcher Dennis Eckersley, who pitched a perfect ninth to tie Jeff Reardon for second place on the career saves list.

Benes struck out seven and walked four before Eckersley came on for his 14th save this season and 367th of his career. Lee Smith of Montreal is the all-time leader with 478.

Florida 2, Montreal 0--Edgar Renteria's two-out single in the ninth inning and rookie Vladimir Guerrero's throwing error helped the Marlins win at Montreal.

Rookie Todd Dunwoody opened the Marlin ninth with a double off Ugueth Urbina (2-5) and went to third on a groundout. Gary Sheffield was hit by a pitch and Moises Alou walked to load the bases.

After Bobby Bonilla popped to short, Renteria lined a single to right. Dunwoody scored on the hit and Sheffield was safe when right fielder Guerrero's throw home sailed to the backstop.

Felix Heredia (4-0) earned the win by getting pinch-hitter Andy Stankiewicz on a fly ball with the bases loaded in the eighth. Robb Nen pitched a perfect ninth for his 19th save.

Houston 3, Chicago 1--Mike Hampton shut out Chicago on four singles until needing relief help in the ninth at Houston.

Hampton (3-6) had lost three consecutive decisions since May 8.

Jeff Bagwell hit his NL-leading 22nd home run, a two-run shot in the first. He tied Glenn Davis for second place on Houston's career list with 166, trailing only Jimmy Wynn's 223.

Billy Wagner pitched the ninth for his 13th save in 15 chances.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

BESTS OF THE DAY

BATTING

Player: Carl Everett

Team: New York

Performance: 4 for 5, Hit three-run home run in 10th

Team's Result: Won

*

Player: Chipper Jones

Team: Atlanta

Performance: 4 for 5, 3 RBIs, home run

Team's Result: Won

*

Player: Tony Gwynn

Team: San Diego

Performance: 2 for 4, game-winning three-run double

Team's Result: Won

PITCHING

Player: Alan Benes

Team: St. Louis

Performance: 8 innings, 4 hits, 1 earned run, 7 strikeouts

Team's Result: Won

*

Player: Mike Hampton

Team: Houston

Performance: 8 innings, 5 hits, 1 run, 4 strikeouts

Team's Result: Won

*

Player: Kirk Rueter

Team: San Francisco

Performance: 7 innings, 5 hits, 2 runs, 3 strikeouts

Team's Result: Won

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