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Vaughn Makes His Presence Felt

Interleague: Struggling first baseman hits a three-run homer to give the Mets 3-2 victory in rubber game of series against the Yankees.

June 17, 2002|From Associated Press

NEW YORK — Mo Vaughn made up for a season's worth of struggles with one dramatic swing.

Vaughn hit a three-run homer in the eighth inning to give him 1,001 RBIs and lift the New York Mets to a 3-2 victory over the Yankees on Sunday night in front of 55,141 at Shea Stadium.

"This is the way I envisioned things," Vaughn said. "It hasn't happened very much, but this whole team has been very positive with me."

The Mets took two of three from their crosstown rivals, only the second time they've won a series against the Yankees in nine tries since interleague play began in 1997.

That doesn't include the 2000 World Series, won by the Yankees in five games.

Roberto Alomar led off the eighth with a looping double that fell in front of diving left fielder Rondell White. First baseman Jason Giambi then booted Mike Piazza's grounder for an error to put runners at the corners.

Acquired from the Angels for pitcher Kevin Appier last December, Vaughn stepped to the plate with only four home runs and 21 RBIs this season.

He has been booed relentlessly by Met fans lately, but he sent them into a frenzy by driving an 0-1 pitch from David Wells (7-4) into the right-field bullpen for a 3-2 lead.

With the fans cheering and waiting for Vaughn to come out of the dugout for a curtain call, Timo Perez emerged for a moment with a smile instead.

"I'm a pretty confident person, but when you do something on this type of stage, it puts a smile on your face," Vaughn said.

He's batting .455 (30 for 66) lifetime with nine home runs against Wells--the most for any active hitter against any active pitcher.

"That's the one guy in their lineup I know can really burn me. He's probably the best player I've ever seen in my career because he owns [me]," Wells said.

"I don't fear him. I'm going to go after him and challenge him until I get his number, because he's certainly got mine."

Mark Guthrie (1-0) got out of a jam in the eighth, striking out Bernie Williams with two on and getting Robin Ventura to ground into an inning-ending double play.

"Hopefully, we can keep this intensity up for the rest of the year," Guthrie said.

"That's what the Yankees do every night for years, that's what the Braves do every night for years. It's what makes the champions every year, and we've got a taste of it now."

Armando Benitez, who blew a ninth-inning lead Friday night, pitched a perfect ninth for his 15th save in 17 chances.

The Yankees got RBI singles from Alfonso Soriano and Williams to take a 2-0 lead.

Wells yielded three runs--two earned--and eight hits in seven-plus innings. He struck out seven.

Making his first career start against the Yankees, Pedro Astacio gave up two runs and five hits in seven innings. He walked three and struck out six.

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