PITTSBURGH (REUTERS) — Rey Ordonez’s RBI single started a three-run ninth inning, and the New York Mets returned from their trying week off to beat Pittsburgh 4-1 Monday night.
Ordonez’s hit — it easily could have been scored an error — and pinch-hitter Mark Johnson’s two-run double made a winner of John Franco (6-2), a native New Yorker and the Mets player probably most personally affected by last week’s terrorist attacks.
Wearing caps honoring the New York firefighters, police and rescue workers, as well as American flags on their jerseys and hats, the Mets won their 18th in 23 games.
Pirates reliever Mike Fetters (3-2) started the ninth by hitting Tsuyoshi Shinjo with a pitch, then walked Jay Payton two outs later. Ordonez’s shot then hit off third baseman Aramis Ramirez’s glove and went into left field, with Shinjo just beating the throw to the plate.
Armando Benitez finished up for his 39th save. Franco, in the Mets’ dugout, got several pats on the back after the final out.
The Mets and Pirates developed one of the NL’s best rivalries in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and the Pirates once based an ad campaign around disliking New York.
But this was a night for solidarity, not rivalry, as evidenced by the “I Love New York” buttons the Pirates handed out. There were even as many cheers as boos when Ordonez singled in the lead run.
As the two teams stood along the baselines during a brief pregame ceremony featuring the national anthem and “God Bless America,” managers Bobby Valentine and Lloyd McClendon hugged each other.
Numerous fans wore clothes with an American flag design, or wore red, white and blue ribbons or pins. The Pirates wanted to hand out U.S. flags but could not get a delivery in time.
Remarkably, the fans gave the Mets a loud ovation before the game and cheered the good plays by both teams, and at least a half dozen brought signs supporting New York and its rescue workers. They gave with their wallets, too — the Pirates collected about $100,000 in fan contributions for the New York police and fire rescue fund, or about $10 for every fan.
The paid attendance was 25,902, but that included seats sold for the Mets-Pirates game that was postponed Sept. 11, the day of the attacks in New York. The Pirates estimated the actual attendance was about 10,000.
Atlanta at Philadelphia: Scott Rolen hit two home runs off Greg Maddux, and the Phillies came back from baseball’s six-day break to beat the Braves 5-2 Monday night and tighten the National League East race.
The game began with fans chanting “USA! USA!” and ended with them cheering. But it took only three batters for Phillies fans to get back in form: They booed after Chipper Jones hit a home run off Robert Person in the first inning.