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Rookies Help Mets Defeat Cubs, 4-3

September 26, 2004|From Associated Press

NEW YORK — Victor Diaz grew up in Chicago rooting for the Cubs, idolizing fellow Dominicans Sammy Sosa and Moises Alou. But on Saturday, the rookie hit a tying, three-run homer with two out in the ninth inning to help the New York Mets rally for a 4-3 victory in 11 innings.

Rookie Craig Brazell provided the winning hit -- his first major league home run -- off Kent Mercker (3-1), and Diaz could not have been happier with the result.

"I grew up a Cubs fan and to do that against this team, it's good," said Diaz, selected in the 37th round of the 2000 draft by the Dodgers. "I wished I got drafted by the Cubs. But everything worked out for me. I'm a Met now."

Brazell, who entered in the 11th as part of a double switch, led off the bottom half and lined a 1-2 pitch over the right-field wall, ending Chicago's five-game winning streak.

Brazell pumped his fist as he rounded first and was mobbed at home by his teammates, a rare moment of celebration for the Mets, who are 24-44 since the All-Star break.

"It's definitely something you dream about as a kid," Brazell said. "As soon as it went out, my heart started thumping as fast as it could."

The Cubs blew a great opportunity to improve their playoff chances. Instead, their lead in the NL wild-card race was reduced to half a game over San Francisco. The Giants beat the Dodgers, 9-5.

Chicago appeared to be cruising to its 14th victory in 17 games behind 7 2/3 strong innings from Mark Prior and a two-run homer by Todd Walker. But Diaz hit the second homer of his career, to the opposite field, off closer LaTroy Hawkins to tie it, 3-3.

After getting an out to start the inning, Ryan Dempster walked Eric Valent and Jason Phillips before giving way to Hawkins. Looking for his second save in two days, Hawkins retired Jeff Keppinger before Diaz lined a 2-2 pitch over the right-field wall.

In the 10th, the Cubs put runners on first and second, but Sosa, in a five-for-38 slump, grounded into a double play.

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