Franco gets out of jam; Sturtze does not

NEW YORK (AP) -- The New York Mets rushed out of the dugout and
mobbed Shane Spencer at first base, jumping up and down in
jubilation. It could have been a scene after the final out of the
World Series.

This one merely put the Mets in position to win the
regular-season Subway Series for the first time.

Spencer's bases-loaded dribbler between the mound and first
base, a ball that traveled only 40 feet or so, drove in the winning
run against his former team, capping an afternoon of comebacks and
giving the Mets a thrilling 10-9 victory Saturday over the Yankees.

"For us it was a test," Spencer said. "It shows we can play
with the best."

Coming a day after the Mets' 11-2 rout, the ending had the
season-best crowd of 55,120 looking ahead to Sunday with shouts of
"Sweep!" Fans also took note of the Yankees' three wins over the
Red Sox coming in, yelling: "We're not Boston!"

"To sweep 'em would be pretty sweet," Spencer said.

Tony Clark homered twice on the sunny summer afternoon and tied
his career high with four hits, but the Yankees wasted leads of
3-1, 6-4 and 8-6. They loaded the bases with two outs in the ninth
and were one pitch from taking the lead when John Franco (2-4) went
to a 3-0 count on pinch-hitter Jorge Posada.

But Posada took a strike, then took another fastball at the
knees for strike two, a pitch he thought should have been ball
four. Franco came back with another fastball, this one a smidgeon

After a tiny delay, plate umpire Chuck Meriwether called it
strike three.

"It seemed like a lifetime," Franco said.

Posada threw his bat, argued and had to be pushed away by
Yankees manager Joe Torre. Posada didn't want to talk about the

"That was the game basically right there," Mets manager Art
Howe said, "because you know who (Mariano Rivera) is coming in if
they score there."

Cliff Floyd, Ty Wigginton and Richard Hidalgo homered off Jose
Contreras, but the Mets made two errors that led to four unearned
runs and failed to hold leads of 4-3 and 9-8.

With the score 9-all in the bottom of the ninth, Tanyon Sturtze
(3-1) walked Kaz Matsui, who had three hits. Mike Piazza then
popped out, Floyd walked and Hidalgo was hit by a pitch. That
brought up Spencer, whose two-run double in seventh put the Mets
ahead 9-8.

The Yankees moved the infield in, and Spencer hit his soft
roller. Sturtze fumbled with the ball for a moment and his
desperation flip to the plate was high, too late to get Matsui.

"As soon as I hit it, I thought the game was over," said
Spencer, credited with a fielder's choice.

"It just kind of rolled up my glove a little bit," Sturtze
said. "I tried to hurry it because I knew Kaz was running."

The Mets, who have done no better than split against the Yankees
since interleague play began in 1997, have won three of five after
going 0-6 last year.

Spencer, in the Yankees' organization from 1990-02, appreciated
how big Saturday's win was for the Mets, who moved over .500 at

"It was games like this we won all the time," he said. "I've
been on the other side and we've won more than 90 percent of these

The Yankees took an 8-6 lead in the sixth on Clark's second
homer of the day, his fourth in five games. Hidalgo hit a solo
homer in the bottom half to set up the go-ahead double by Spencer,
who had been 1-for-6 against Tom Gordon with five strikeouts.

But Mike Stanton walked Bernie Williams leading off the eighth,
and Williams became the fourth leadoff walk to score against the
Mets. After Wigginton fumbled Clark's broken-bat grounder to third
for an error, Ruben Sierra hit a sacrifice fly against Ricky

Jason Giambi, in a 1-for-15 slump as he battles intestinal
parasites, started the Yankees' rally attempt in the ninth with a
two-out double off Franco. Giambi was on his fifth day of
antibiotics to combat the illness and hasn't started since June 26.

"I felt before like I was swinging a 500-ounce bat," he said,
"but I know the game is slowing down a little."

Williams was intentionally walked and Clark hit an infield
single, with Wigginton diving to make the stop and save the run.
Then Posada hit for John Flaherty.

"They're always going to come back with something," Floyd

Alex Rodriguez went 0-for-5, stranding four of five runners.
Rodriguez has just one hit in his last 17 at-bats, and his average
has dropped from .307 on June 13 to .276. With runners in scoring
position, he is batting just .213 (16-for-75).

Contreras, in his second start since reuniting with his family
after it left Cuba, allowed seven runs and eight hits in five-plus

"I couldn't really locate the ball at key moments of the
game," he said.

Game notes
Yankees RHP Kevin Brown, recovering from back spasms and
intestinal parasites, won't pitch until at least next weekend. ...
Howe called Florida's Jack McKeon, the NL All-Star manager, to
lobby for LHP Tom Glavine to be included on the roster.