Castro drives in five as Mets slam D-Backs

PHOENIX (AP) -- The New York Mets' fill-ins are starting to play
like fixtures.

Ramon Castro, an everyday catcher because of Mike Piazza's
broken hand, drove in a career-high five runs, and Mike Jacobs
homered for the second time in three games since he was brought up
from the minor leagues, leading the Mets over the Arizona
Diamondbacks 14-1 on Tuesday night.

"We're playing great and we're playing hard," Castro said.
"We never give up. We're a team, so we're playing together, and
right now we're a winner."

The way Victor Zambrano pitched, the offensive outburst was pure

Zambrano (7-10) allowed six hits, including an RBI single by
Luis Gonzalez, in eight innings as the Mets won for the sixth time
in eight games. New York, 23-35 on the road before winning Monday's
series opener, is starting a stretch in which it plays 17 of 20
away from Shea Stadium.

Claudio Vargas (7-7) gave up eight runs and 10 hits in five
innings for Arizona, which dropped to 6-14 in August.

"We haven't seen him pitch like that since he's been here,"
Arizona manager Bob Melvin said about Vargas, who was claimed off
waivers on June 3 and promoted to the rotation June 21. "They
squared some balls up. They had opportunities and came through and
we didn't."

New York had 17 hits, tying its season high for a nine-inning
game, and Zambrano went 2-for-5 at the plate, punctuating his
strong bid to remain in the rotation since the activation of Steve

Manager Willie Randolph declined to give the right-hander a vote
of confidence.

"Things still could change, but Vic threw the ball well,"
Randolph said. "As I said earlier, we'll evaluate as we go, but
anytime a guy throws well, does well, he gets the upper hand."

David Wright and Victor Diaz drove in two runs each, and Cliff
Floyd, Jose Reyes and Miguel Cairo had run-scoring hits.

Diaz and Reyes had RBI triples during a four-run second inning,
the Mets made it 6-0 in the third and Jacobs boosted the lead to
8-1 in the fourth with a two-run homer. On Sunday, he homered in
his first major league at-bat, a three-run drive as a pinch hitter.

"You look around the infield and you've got Wright at third,
Reyes at short," said Jacobs, who can catch and started the last
two games as a replacement for injured first baseman Doug
Mientkiewicz. "I played with Reyes in 2000 at Kingsport, know what
I mean? I don't think I've been on the same team with Wright, but
just being in the system with him, I look at that infield and it's
just young guys, and I think it's awesome."

Castro singled home the Mets' first run in the second, had an
RBI grounder in the third and hit a three-run double that capped a
six-run sixth inning.

"It was just not my day," Vargas said. "You know, I watched
the video, and they hit me in good pitches. The changeup was a good
pitch, and they hit it pretty good."

Game notes
Castro had had seven games with three RBI, including three
this year. The last one was Saturday against Washington. ... Reyes'
triple was his 12th, tying Florida's Juan Pierre for the NL lead.
... The home crowd booed loudly when Vargas, downcast after falling
behind 6-0, jogged to first on a grounder to third leading off the
third inning. ... Floyd took an extra-base hit away with a diving
catch of Shawn Green's opposite-field drive that curled toward the
left-field line in the second. Floyd's sinker to center in the
sixth popped out of Green's glove, allowing a run to score.