Mets take advantage of Expos errors

Posted: Friday, July 28, 2000

NEW YORK -- Mike Hampton pitched a seven-hitter and Jay Payton scored on his own two-run double Thursday as the New York Mets beat the Montreal Expos 4-3 Thursday to complete a sloppy doubleheader sweep.

Benny Agbayani went 4-for-5 with three RBIs and Matt Franco had a pair of run-scoring singles, including a tiebreaking hit in the eighth inning, as New York rallied from a 7-2 deficit to win the opener 9-8.

A full day of rain that caused a postponement Wednesday left puddles on the outfield warning track and fielders slipping.

There were nine errors -- including three by New York third baseman Lenny Harris in the second game. The Mets lost Derek Bell (cut chin and dizziness) and Melvin Mora (broken finger nail) to injuries.

John Franco (5-3) and Hampton (10-7) were the winners, and Scott Strickland (2-1) and Hideki Irabu (2-5), pitching in New York for the first time since the Yankees traded him during the offseason, were the losers. Armando Benitez got his 23rd save in the opener.

Dodgers 16, Rockies 11

DENVER -- Adrian Beltre was 4-for-6 with a career-high six RBIs, including his second grand slam of the year, and Alex Cora was 4-for-5 with two homers and five RBIs as Los Angeles won for the seventh time in nine games. Cora set career highs for hits and RBIs.

As both teams scored in double digits at Coors Field for the fourth time this season, Dodgers starter Eric Gagne was pounded for nine runs -- six earned -- and 11 hits in 4 1-3 innings.

Larry Walker went 4-for-4 with a home run and two RBIs and Jeff Cirillo had two hits and three RBIs for the Rockies, who lost for the 18th time in 22 games. Onan Masaoka (1-0) won and Giovanni Carrara (0-1) was tagged for seven runs and seven hits in two-thirds of an inning.

Cubs 4, Phillies 1

PHILADELPHIA -- Ricky Gutierrez hit a go-ahead triple off Vicente Padilla (2-2) in a three-run ninth as Chicago extended its longest winning streak of the season to six by completing a three-game sweep.

Steve Rain (2-0) struck out three and walked none in 2 1-3 hitless innings as Cubs won for the 12th time in 15 games. Rick Aguilera got three outs for his 23rd save.

Marlins 12, Braves 4

ATLANTA -- Cliff Floyd homered off Greg Maddux in a three-run sixth inning to start Florida's comeback from a 2-0 deficit, and Mike Lowell hit a grand slam off Jason Marquis in a five-run eighth.

Chuck Smith (1-3), a 30-year-old rookie, got his first major league win, helping Florida stop a five-game losing streak. He gave up two runs and six hits in five innings, walked four and struck out two.

Maddux (12-5) gave up six runs -- four earned -- and 10 hits in 6 2-3 innings.

Diamondbacks 17, Cardinals 5

ST. LOUIS -- Danny Bautista homered twice, and Alex Cabrera and Luis Gonzalez also connected as Arizona stopped a four-game losing streak.

Cabrera was 3-for-6 with four RBIs, while Bautista and Gonzalez each went 3-for-5 with three RBIs. Greg Colbrunn was 4-for-5 and also drove in three runs as Arizona piled on 19 hits.

Rookie Geraldo Guzman (3-1) gave up four runs and seven hits in 5 2-3 innings. Cardinals starter Rick Ankiel (7-6) struck out 10 in 4 2-3 innings, but allowed six runs and six hits. St. Louis has lost five of eight and is 7-10 since injured Mark McGwire last played on July 6.

Brewers 4, Pirates 3

PITTSBURGH -- Tyler Houston, who had been 0-for-6 as a pinch-hitter this season, homered off Josias Manzanillo (1-1) to break a ninth-inning tie.

Curtis Leskanic (2-2) pitched a perfect eighth for his second victory in the series and Bob Wickman finished for his 16th save.

HEAD:Strawberry wants back into baseball


BYLINE2:AP Sports Writer

TAMPA, Fla. -- Five months into his year-long suspension from baseball, Darryl Strawberry has left a drug clinic and is trying to get back into the game.

Strawberry wrote a letter to commissioner Bud Selig several weeks ago asking for reinstatement, a high-ranking baseball official said Thursday on the condition he not be identified.

The New York Yankees outfielder, serving his third drug-related suspension, asked for an early end to his one-year ban, currently scheduled to run through February.

The baseball official confirmed that the eight-time All-Star left a clinic where he was being treated for his cocaine problem, and returned to his home in a gated community outside Tampa.

Strawberry told the New York Daily News that he left the Sobrenity, Inc., clinic in Fort Lauderdale after 3 1/2 months because he needs to support his wife and children and explore returning to work in baseball.

Strawberry's agent, Eric Grossman, did not immediately return telephone messages from The Associated Press. However, officials of the St. Paul, Minn., Saints minor league club confirmed there have been discussions about hiring the 38-year-old slugger.

The Saints are the independent minor league team Strawberry played for in 1996 when no big league club was interested in him. General manager Bill Fanning said the club was talking to Strawberry about an arrangement but nothing had been finalized.

Owner Marvin Goldklang emphasized that Strawberry would not join the Saints as a player. The minor league team also doesn't want to give the impression it is trying to enhance his chances of returning to the majors.

''Whatever we may do for Darryl Strawberry will have nothing to do with whether he plays another baseball game,'' Goldklang said in a telephone interview.

''I'm assuming (he wants to return to baseball). Darryl hasn't said that to me,'' the owner added. ''At this point in his life, that's the thing he does best and wants to do. I'm assuming given the opportunity he'd like to play again. That has nothing to do with our relationship with Darryl.''

Goldklang, also a Yankees limited partner, said an arrangement might be made within a week or so, although it appears the closest fans might come to seeing Strawberry play in St. Paul would be some rounds of batting practice.

''We already have spoken to a physician and a counselor who are familiar with Darryl's situation. It has been suggested to us that that would be a positive element for Darryl because that would help keep him in an environment where he does feel comfortable. That's a distinct possibility.''

The Daily News reported that baseball has ''serious questions'' concerning Strawberry's fitness to resume his career.

On Feb. 28, Strawberry was suspended by Selig after his third violation of baseball's drug policy. The suspension came after Strawberry had tested positive for cocaine during a routine check.

After playing briefly with the Saints, Strawberry's contract was purchased by the Yankees in July 1996. Two years later, the outfielder was diagnosed with colon cancer and underwent surgery.

While still undergoing chemotherapy, Strawberry returned to baseball in March 1999. A month later, he was charged with possessing cocaine and soliciting a prostitute. Pleading no contest, Strawberry was sentenced to 18 months' probation and 100 hours of community service.

He returned to the Yankees on Sept. 1, 1999, and finished the season with a .327 batting average, three homers and six RBIs. In the postseason, he hit .333 (5-for-15) with two homers and four RBIs as the Yankees won their second straight World Series championship.

Goldklang said the Saints' interest in helping the slugger get back on his feet is personal, not a publicity stunt.

''I know there may be some skeptics out there who question why we would do this for Darryl Strawberry,'' he said. ''I'm not claiming that we never do things in our economic interest or selfish interest. ... I think we are just motivated by caring for another human being. He's been good to us in the past and we remember our friends.''

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