Mets hold off Braves' late rally

ATLANTA (AP) -- Mike Piazza gave the New York Mets the lead and Mike Stanton held on to it -- barely.

Piazza hit a three-run homer in his first game against Atlanta
this year and Timo Perez added a two-run double as the New York
Mets beat the Braves 6-5 Tuesday night.

Piazza missed nearly three months with a strained right groin,
including the previous 13 games between the teams. He connected in
the first off Shane Reynolds (10-7) for a 3-0 lead.

"Obviously, the ball was up a little bit," Piazza said. "I
didn't try to do too much with it."

Since returning from the disabled list Aug. 13, Piazza's hitting
.273 with three homers and 13 RBI in 10 games.

"I was just trying to get good pitches to hit," Piazza said.
"I had a good swing that first time up."

Gary Sheffield went 3-for-5 with a two-run homer for the Braves, who had won three in a row.

They got within a run in the ninth on a pinch-hit homer by Mike
Hessman. After Stanton retired Rafael Furcal for the second out,
Marcus Giles walked and brought Sheffield to the plate with the
winning run.

But he grounded back to Stanton on a 3-2 pitch, and the Mets

"That was a situation where he made a pitch he had to make,"
Sheffield said. "With two strikes, I'm in a protective mode. You
have to really be aware of all the pitches. You can't just zone

Jae Weong Seo (8-8) went five innings to win his third straight
start. Before his recent run, he had lost six straight decisions,
and New York had lost the previous nine games in which he started.

Seo allowed two runs on four hits, struck out five and didn't
walk a batter as the Mets won for the fourth time in five games.

Stanton picked up his fourth save in six chances.

"The key to facing Sheffield in the ninth was that I used
pretty much everything I had," Stanton said. "You have to
continue to change speeds and make quality pitches, and I was able
to do that."

Hessman hit his first big league homer in his second at-bat in
the majors.

Marcus Giles hit his 42nd double of the year in the third,
breaking the Atlanta record of 41 set in 1997 by Chipper Jones.
Jones also hit 41 in 1999.

The Mets took a 6-2 lead in the sixth with three runs off
Reynolds. Roger Cedeno and Jose Reyes hit back-to-back singles, and
both scored on a double to right-center by Timo Perez. After Piazza
was intentionally walked, Perez moved to third when Jason Phillips
hit into a double play.

Before facing Ty Wigginton, Reynolds hesitated and stepped back
off the rubber, and home plate umpire Alfonso Marquez called a balk
that scored Perez.

Reynolds and Atlanta manager Bobby Cox both argued, and the
entire umpire crew huddled briefly behind the mound before allowing
the balk to stand.

After the game, Reynolds said he was told he stepped off the
rubber with his left foot first.

"It seemed so weird," Reynolds said. "To me, I stepped off
because the batter had stepped out. The second-base umpire said he
didn't call it because he thought there was a timeout."

The Braves cut the lead to 6-4 in the sixth on run-scoring
singles by Andruw Jones and Javy Lopez.

Piazza didn't waste any time getting back in a groove against
the Braves, hitting a towering, 404-foot shot off Reynolds into the
seats in left in the first inning. His first homer in more than
week also scored Cedeno and Perez and gave Seo and the Mets a 3-0

"They are a great team," Piazza said. "There's no question
about that. They have some unbelievable numbers. So it was a
challenge for us."

After the homer, Reynolds settled down and retired 14 straight
until he ran into the trouble in the sixth.

"Some nights, you make bad pitches and get away with it,"
Reynolds said. "And then some nights you make two bad pitches and
they cost you the game."

Game notes
The Braves' modern franchise record for doubles is 47, set
in 1945 by Tommy Holmes when the team was in Boston. ... Cedeno
went 2-for-4 to extend his hitting streak to 10 games. ... Lopez
reached base for the 29th straight start. In his past 77 games,
he's hitting .359 with 30 home runs and 77 RBI.