Mets' Valent makes the most of opportunity

Replacement's homer beats the Expos; Juneau's Bentz throws scoreless inning

Posted: Monday, April 12, 2004

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - Cliff Floyd's injury gave Eric Valent an opportunity.

Valent hit his first major league home run, a go-ahead, two-run drive that backed Tom Glavine and led the New York Mets over the Montreal Expos 4-1 Sunday.

"It's exciting," Valent said. "And it helped us win the game."

Floyd injured his right thigh running out an infield grounder in the first and needed to be helped off the field by manager Art Howe and a trainer. Valent pinch ran and went to right field in the bottom half.

With the score 1-all in the sixth and a runner on third, Valent sent a 66 mph curveball from Livan Hernandez (0-1) into the right-field bleachers.

"He just threw that big curveball, and I recognized it," Valent said.

Glavine (2-0) had singled to open the inning and came around on Kaz Matsui's double and Todd Zeile's sacrifice fly. Ty Wigginton added an RBI single in the ninth off Jeremy Fikac.

Juneau's Chad Bentz, a rookie left-handed relief pitcher for the Expos, made his second major league appearance on Sunday. Bentz threw a scoreless eighth inning, allowing one base on balls and striking out one batter. Bentz walked Valent, then got Mike Piazza to ground into a double-play at short and struck out Mike Cameron to end the inning.

With Floyd's status still uncertain and right fielder Karim Garcia out with a broken left ring finger, Valent and Shane Spencer could see more time in the Mets' outfield.

Piazza, making his first start for the Mets at first base, also got banged up when he collided with Peter Bergeron in the third inning after Bergeron bunted to Glavine.

Piazza reached into foul territory in an attempt to grab Glavine's errant throw, which got away. Piazza appeared to be brushed in the head by Bergeron's knee and stayed on the ground for about 30 seconds, but he remained in the game.

"It was a weird play," Piazza said. "Even though he's not a big guy, he was running pretty fast."

Howe got a scare watching the play from the bench.

"We got lucky. I thought, 'Get the heck out of the way,"' the manager said.

Piazza left in the eighth inning after hitting into a double play. He had a sore neck and hyperextended right elbow.

Glavine, who beat Atlanta in the Mets' opener, allowed just an unearned run and five hits in seven innings. Montreal scored in the third on Jose Vidro's sacrifice fly after a throwing error by Glavine on Bergeron's bunt single.

"I felt very comfortable with all the pitches I was trying to make," Glavine said.

Giants 6, Padres 3

SAN DIEGO - Barry Bonds remained on hold with 659 career homers after failing to connect for the fifth straight game. He was 1-for-3 with a double and two walks, remaining one behind his godfather, Willie Mays, for third on the career list.

Pedro Feliz hit a two-run double in the eighth off Jay Witasick (0-1), Edgardo Alfonzo had a tying single, and Neifi Perez hit a two-run single off Antonio Osuna.

Marlins 3, Phillies 1

MIAMI - Josh Beckett (1-0) allowed two hits and struck out 11 in seven inning as Florida completed a three-game sweep and handed Philadelphia (1-5) its fourth consecutive loss.

Florida has won 10 straight home games against Philadelphia.

Rockies 4, Dodgers 2

LOS ANGELES - Shawn Estes (2-0) allowed one run and three its in seven innings, and Vinny Castilla and Jeromy Burnitz homered off Odalis Perez (0-1) as Colorado stopped a four-game losing streak.

Shawn Chacon got his first career save despite allowing a run on a wild pitch, helping the Rockies end a nine-game losing streak to the Dodgers.

Cardinals 6, Diamondbacks 5

PHOENIX - Pinch-hitter Marlon Anderson hit a tiebreaking homer off Matt Mantei (0-1) in the ninth for a three-game sweep.

Mike Lincoln (2-0) was the winner. Jason Isringhausen loaded the bases in the ninth with three walks, then got Alex Cintron on a grounder for his first save.

Cubs 10, Braves 2

ATLANTA - Kerry Wood tied a Cubs' record with seven straight strikeouts and finished with 11 to lead Chicago over the Atlanta Braves.

Corey Patterson, Michael Barrett, pinch-hitter Alex Gonzalez and Moises Alou all homered for the Cubs.

Pirates 4, Reds 3

CINCINNATI - Rob Mackowiak hit a two-run homer, Raul Mondesi drove in two runs and Pittsburgh avoided a three-game sweep.

Oliver Perez (1-0) allowed six hits and three runs in five innings in his first start of the season.

Astros 7, Brewers 4

MILWAUKEE - Lance Berkman hit a grand slam and drove in five runs for Houston.

Berkman's homer, his first of the season, capped a five-run rally against Doug Davis (1-1) in the third inning. The four RBIs were also his first of the season.

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