NEW YORK (AP) -- Al Leiter only lasted a little more than five
innings. That was more than enough for the New York Mets, thanks to
some reliable relievers.
Leiter got a big boost from the bullpen in his first win of the
season, and New York beat the Atlanta Braves 4-0 Thursday night.
"When your starter gives you a scoreless outing, you need to
get the win for him," closer Braden Looper said.
Shane Spencer drove in leadoff hitter Kaz Matsui twice for the
Mets, who completed their first shutout of the year. They have
split the first six of 19 meetings with the Braves.
Atlanta manager Bobby Cox wasn't around to see much of it -- he
was ejected for the first time this season in the top of the fifth
for arguing balls and strikes from the dugout.
Leiter, hit in the head by a line drive in his final spring
training outing, extended his scoreless streak to 24 1/3
consecutive innings dating to last year, including 10 1/3 innings
to start this season. He threw five shutout innings against
Montreal in his first start.
"He's got a good cutter and it was cold outside, and it's
really tough to handle that pitch on a cold night," Atlanta's
Julio Franco said.
Leiter (1-0) held the Braves hitless through four innings. He
was removed with two on in the sixth after throwing 104 pitches,
but the bullpen came through in a big way.
David Weathers escaped a bases-loaded jam in the sixth by
getting Franco to ground into an inning-ending double play,
preserving a 2-0 lead.
"That was probably the pitch of the game," Mets manager Art
Weathers then got Jesse Garcia to ground into a double play to
end the seventh. Rookie Orber Moreno pitched a perfect eighth, and
Looper struck out two in a 1-2-3 ninth.
"That was overpowering stuff," Howe said.
Horacio Ramirez (0-1) pitched well for the Braves, but a couple
of mistakes cost him.
In the first inning, he walked Matsui, who went to third on
Ricky Gutierrez's double and scored on Spencer's groundout.
"That's as pretty as it gets," Howe said. "That's as pretty
as a home run."
Ramirez walked Leiter, an .089 career hitter, leading off the
third, and later balked Matsui to second. He scored on Spencer's
two-out single to center.
Pinch-hitter Karim Garcia added a two-out RBI single in the
eighth off C.J. Nitkowski. It was Garcia's first at-bat since
breaking the tip of his left ring finger last Saturday.
Jeff Duncan followed with a run-scoring single, his first hit of
Leiter also laced a double to right-center in the fifth, just
his eighth extra-base hit in 461 major league at-bats.
"I get lucky once in a while -- very, very once in a while,"
On the mound, the left-hander allowed only three singles in 5
1/3 innings. He struck out two and walked three.
Ramirez, who pitched seven scoreless innings against the Cubs in
his first start of the season, gave up two runs and six hits in
seven innings. He walked four, one intentional.
"I was pleased I was able to keep the team in the game,"
Ramirez said. "I knew in the second inning I wasn't going to have
my best control. I had to battle."Game notes
Jackie Robinson's widow, Rachel, addressed the crowd before
the game. Her daughter, Sharon, took part in a first-pitch
ceremony. ... Braves LF Chipper Jones was back in the lineup after
missing two games with a mild right hamstring strain. He went
0-for-4. ... RF J.D. Drew missed his second consecutive game
because of a mild left hamstring strain. ... SS Rafael Furcal
(strained lower back) sat out his fifth straight game. ... Braves
2B Marcus Giles has hit safely in all nine games this season. He
also stole his fourth base and is batting .432 (16-for-37). ... Cox
was ejected nine times last year. ... Jesse Garcia made a diving
play at shortstop in the second inning, robbing Duncan of a hit.
... Leiter's career-best scoreless streak is 25 1/3 innings, set in
1998. ... As a precaution, Mets CF Mike Cameron was a late scratch
from the lineup because of muscle soreness on the inside of his
right thigh. He pinch-hit in the eighth and grounded out.
- Home Plate Umpire - Jeff Kellogg
- First Base Umpire - Doug Eddings
- Second Base Umpire - Dan Iassogna
- Third Base Umpire - Charlie Reliford