Valent Hits for Cycle in Mets' Win

Monday, July 26th 2004, 6:12 am
By: News On 6

Needing a triple to secure a spot in the New York Mets' record book, Eric Valent lined a pitch into the right-field corner and ran as fast as he could.

``I didn't know if I was going to be out by a mile or what,'' he said. ``I was just running, and luckily I got in there.''

Valent slid safely into third, beating the relay throw from first baseman Nick Johnson, and became the eighth player in Mets history to hit for the cycle Thursday in New York's 10-1 victory over the Montreal Expos.

``Eric Valent had a whale of a day,'' Mets manager Art Howe said. ``He hit for the cycle. Not too many people can say that they've done that.''

Valent went 4-for-4 with a walk, drove in three runs and scored three times to become the fourth player in the majors this season to hit a single, double, triple and home run in a game. He joined Milwaukee's Chad Moeller, Pittsburgh's Daryle Ward and Philadelphia's David Bell in accomplishing the feat.

``It's cool,'' Valent said. ``It's tough to do. You need a lot of luck. It's a nice thing you can say when you're done playing.''

Mike Cameron homered twice for the Mets, who split the four-game series and are three games under .500 at 49-52.

Valent made his first start in left field since May 30, and had a career day before a crowd of 20,042 _ the second-biggest at Olympic Stadium this season.

He singled following Cameron's two-run homer off Rocky Biddle in the second, and doubled after Cameron's solo shot put the Mets up 5-0 in the third.

Valent tied his career high for hits with a two-run homer off a speaker against Sun-Woo Kim in the fifth. Valent's RBI triple in the seventh off Roy Corcoran completed the Mets' first cycle since John Olerud did it on Sept. 11, 1997 _ also against the Expos.

``What a good day for the Mets,'' Cameron said.

In other NL games, it was: Florida 10, Philadelphia 1; Atlanta 3, Pittsburgh 2; Chicago 4, Milwaukee 0; Arizona 6, Houston 4; Los Angeles 3, Colorado 2; and San Diego 7, San Francisco 4.

At Montreal, Al Leiter (7-3) allowed three hits and one run in six innings, improving to 6-1 in his last 10 starts. He has a 2.18 ERA overall, and has allowed just two runs in 18 innings in his last three starts against the Expos.

Mike Piazza hit a two-run single in the second to cap a four-run outburst, and Richard Hidalgo hit his 17th homer in the eighth as the Mets reached double digits in runs for the second time in the series.

Biddle (2-5), who began the season as the Expos' closer, allowed seven hits and five runs in three innings.

``Disappointing _ that sums it up,'' Biddle said. ``I was all over the place, couldn't find my location at all.''

Marlins 10, Phillies 1

At Miami, Alex Gonzalez hit his first career grand slam, Dontrelle Willis (8-6) pitched seven innings, and Florida swept Philadelphia at home for the fourth time in a row.

It was the Phillies' 14th consecutive loss in Miami, including seven this year. Most of the games have been close, but the Marlins scored in the third inning against Paul Abbott (1-5), capped by Gonzalez's 15th homer for an 8-0 lead.

The Marlins are 11-1 against the Phillies this season and have won 23 of the past 26 meetings.

Braves 3, Pirates 2

At Pittsburgh, Rafael Furcal made up for two errors with a go-ahead single during Atlanta's two-run, ninth-inning rally against closer Jose Mesa (2-1).

The Braves won their third in the four-game series, sixth in seven games overall _ and 15th in 20. They also took the season series from Pittsburgh 4-2, and are 11-4 against the Pirates the last two seasons.

Juan Cruz (3-0) pitched a perfect eighth for the victory before John Smoltz finished for his 23rd save.

Cubs 4, Brewers 0

At Milwaukee, Carlos Zambrano (10-6) gave up four hits over eight shutout innings and Sammy Sosa homered.

The Cubs won three of four games in the series that drew a Miller Park-record 167,109 fans, the majority of them rooting for Chicago.

The Brewers were 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position, dropping to 4-for-73 in that situation over the last 10 games.

Diamondbacks 6, Astros 4

At Houston, Lance Cormier (1-2) got his first major league victory in his third start, and Shea Hillenbrand hit a two-run homer to lead Arizona to just its second win since the All-Star break.

Before the game, Luis Gonzalez announced that he'll have season-ending ligament replacement surgery on Monday. He has played all season with a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow.

Dodgers 3, Rockies 2

At Denver, David Ross and Jayson Werth homered and Wilson Alvarez (6-3) pitched five solid innings for Los Angeles.

Eric Gagne got the final out in the eighth, and pitched a perfect ninth for his 30th save in 31 chances.

Padres 7, Giants 4

At San Diego, Phil Nevin singled in the go-ahead run in the sixth inning to help the Padres overcome Barry Bonds' 684th career homer.

The Padres won three in the four-game series and remain 2 1/2 games behind the first-place Dodgers in the NL West.

Blaine Neal (1-1) pitched two-thirds of an inning for the win, and Trevor Hoffman earned his 28th save.