Saturday, August 24, 2002

Rockies 10, Mets 4

The Associated Press

        DENVER — Jay Payton tormented his former team Friday night, the same thing he's been doing to just about every other opponent since coming to the Colorado Rockies in a trade with the New York Mets on July 31. Payton homered and drove in four runs as the Rockies handed the Mets their 12th straight loss, 10-4.

        In 20 games with the Rockies, Payton is hitting .413 with five homers and 19 RBIs.

        “I wasn't trying to do anything different from what I've done since I've been here, really,” Payton said. “I'm trying to keep it going and that is all I'm trying to do.

        “I knew who the opposition was, but I don't hold any bad feelings towards the Mets organization. They gave me a chance to play in the major leagues. I just am trying to help my team win. It's fun to win no matter who it is, and if you can contribute to a win, it's a good day.”

        Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said Payton “continues to give us a huge offensive shot in the arm, especially with (Larry) Walker being out. He put two good swings on a couple of pitches tonight and drove in four quick runs.”

        It is the Mets' sixth-longest losing streak in franchise history and the longest in 22 years, since they dropped 13 in a row from Aug. 31-Sept. 12, 1980.

        In the somber Mets clubhouse, manager Bobby Valentine bit his lip and was near tears after the game.

        “Somebody had the audacity to say that I am trying to get fired from this job or that I want to quit,” Valentine said. “The job that I hold the highest place of any job in the country, in the world. The thing that I live and breathe and die for every second of my life. It's insulting, it's degrading, it's eating at my soul. It is the worst thing that has ever been said about me in my life.

        “And if it is ever said again, I'll find the person that said it and I will get ...,” his voice trailing off.

        Valentine, who held a team meeting after to the game, also said he was upset that “innocuous statements that I made ... were misconstrued as criticism of my players. I have never criticized my players in public.”

        Jason Jennings (15-5) won for the fifth straight outing, tying a club record. He didn't allow a run until the sixth inning and left after giving up four runs and seven hits in seven innings.

        Jennings' 15 wins are the third-most in Colorado history, trailing only Pedro Astacio and Kevin Ritz, who won 17 in 1999 and 1996, respectively.

        The win came on the one-year anniversary of his first career victory. Against the Mets at Shea Stadium a year ago, Jennings became the first player in history to throw a shutout and hit a home run in his major league debut.

        Astacio (11-7), who played for Colorado from 1997-2001, allowed seven runs — six earned — and eight hits in five innings.

        Roberto Alomar had a two-run homer for the Mets.

        Payton homered to lead off the second, his 13th. His three-run double highlighted a four-run third.

        The Rockies loaded the bases with one out in the third. Juan Uribe singled, stole second and went to third on Jennings' groundout. Juan Pierre walked, and Brent Butler reached on a fielder's choice when he grounded to third and Ty Wigginton's throw to the plate was high and wide, allowing Uribe to retreat to third.

        Uribe scored on an error when Todd Helton's dribbler was fielded by Astacio, whose short throw was dropped by catcher Mike Piazza. Payton then cleared the bases with a double to left-center.

        The Rockies made it 7-0 in the fifth. Helton led off with a homer, his 23rd. Payton was hit by a pitch, went to second on a groundout and scored on Gabe Kapler's single.

        The Mets countered with two in the sixth on Alomar's ninth homer. Pinch-hitter Tony Tarasco doubled ahead of him.

        The Rockies made it 10-2 with three runs in their half, including Sandy Alomar's two-run single.

        As lightning crackled around Coors Field and rain began falling in the seventh, Wigginton had an RBI double and pinch-hitter John Valentin an RBI single for New York.

        Notes: Fred Wilpon completed his buyout of Mets co-owner Nelson Doubleday on Friday, ending their acrimonious partnership after 16 years. ... The Rockies optioned RHP Shawn Chacon to Triple-A Colorado Springs and recalled LHP Brian Fuentes. Chacon was 5-11 with a 5.58 ERA and has lost his last five decisions. ... Rockies slugger Larry Walker was held out of his second straight game — and third of the last four — because of a sore back and dislocated rib. ... LF Roger Cedeno made a diving catch near the line to rob Sandy Alomar in the fourth. ... In his last two outings, Astacio has allowed 20 hits and 15 runs — 14 earned — in eight innings. ... The Mets got some outstanding pitching Friday — in the minor leagues, that is. Three Mets farm teams pitched one-hitters: Double-A Binghamton, Class A Capital City and Class A Brooklyn.


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