Mets 4, Yankees 2 (Yankees Lead Series, 2-1)

Wednesday, October 25th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) _ Benny Agbayani might have said it best.

``Anything can happen in a World Series, especially with El Duque,'' he said.

What happened Tuesday night was that the New York Mets ended the Yankees' record 14-game winning streak in the World Series and stopped El Duque's string, too.

Agbayani got Shea Stadium shaking with a go-ahead double in the eighth inning as Orlando Hernandez lost for the first time in the postseason as the Mets cut their Subway Series deficit to 2-1 with a 4-2 victory.

``I mean, that's all we heard was how he's won so many games in the postseason. He never lost. So there's always a first for anyone,'' Agbayani said.

Hernandez began the night with an 8-0 record _ including 3-0 this year _ and a 1.90 ERA in postseason play, and set a Yankees' World Series record by striking out 12, breaking the mark of 11 set by Bob Turley in 1956.

Still, it was not enough.

``So we got a victory, we broke a little streak,'' Mets manager Bobby Valentine said.

``I think baseball fans, and I'm one of them, have been watching the World Series for the last few years and it hasn't seemed like it's been real big competition,'' he said. ``I thought we were in those first two games, but you could only go so long saying they were close games.''

Now, after two one-run defeats at Yankee Stadium, the Mets get a chance to draw even. Bobby J. Jones will pitch Game 4 on Wednesday night against Denny Neagle.

``It's light years different between being 3-0 and 2-1,'' Valentine said.

The Mets' win came after the strange doings of Sunday night's Game 2, which was all about Roger Clemens almost hitting Mike Piazza with a bat. Earlier Tuesday, Clemens was slapped with a $50,000 fine.

``Our fans have been waiting 14 years for this,'' winning pitcher John Franco said. ``They're very loud and we just love being in this ballpark and the noise.''

A sellout crowd of 55,299 went crazy as Armando Benitez held on in the ninth inning this time. Benitez, who blew a ninth-inning lead in the opener, closed it out after giving up a leadoff single to pinch-hitter Chuck Knoblauch.

Yankees manager Joe Torre talked to Hernandez, who felt ill before the game, about pulling him after the seventh with the score tied at 2.

``He wasn't into that,'' Torre said. ``He's something.

``I was going to make a change. But he felt really good. And it was tough after he pitched that seventh, the way he did, to deny that.''

The Mets, who tied it at 2 on Todd Zeile's double in the sixth, improved their record at Shea this season to 60-26, the best home mark in baseball.

There were more Yankees fans present than Mets rooters at Yankee Stadium, though they were easily drowned out by the huge speakers in center field _ the Mets boosted their sound system with $30,000 in extra equipment this October.

``A lot of people don't like to play here,'' Zeile said. ``The field ... there's airplanes going overhead _ we feel comfortable here. It's loud.''

Hernandez, who struck out the first three hitters in the opening inning on 12 pitches and took advantage of a few extra inches on the outside corner of Jeff Kellogg's strike zone, fanned Robin Ventura to start the eighth.

But after Zeile singled, Agbayani doubled to the left-center field gap. Agbayani has hit in all 12 of the Mets' postseason games this year, including a 13th-inning home run that beat San Francisco in the division series.

Pinch-hitter Bubba Trammell then added a sacrifice fly for insurance.

The sixth inning saw the Mets tie it at 2 and showcased all this Subway Series has to offer _ big stars delivering in big spots, dueling fans and drama with every pitch.

Piazza, who looked foolish in striking out his first two times up, led off with a double. Ventura, who homered earlier, drew a full-count walk. Zeile missed a bunt attempt and followed with a tying double, and the Mets' crowd got loud, raising the decibel count more when Agbayani eked out a walk.

Bases loaded, no outs. And no worries from the Yankees bench _ Torre never even had anyone warming up, leaving it all to Hernandez.

El Duque did not disappoint. He fanned Jay Payton, hopping off the mound to punctuate his 10th strikeout, and got Mike Bordick to swing through a 3-2 pitch.

With reliever Dennis Cook warming up, Valentine gambled. He pinch hit up Darryl Hamilton for starter Rick Reed, but Hamilton was no match for Hernandez and grounded out.

``Baseball's a challenge, you've got to fight to get outs,'' Hernandez said through an interpreter.

The Yankees tied it at 1 in the third on David Justice's RBI double. It came with two outs, as have several of the Yankees' big hits in this Series.

Reed singled in the bottom half, and did a little extra running as Edgardo Alfonzo fouled off a full-count pitch with two outs before popping up.

Tired or not, Reed was not sharp in the next inning. Tino Martinez led off with a single, and, Paul O'Neill hit his first triple since July 23, 1999. Scott Brosius was hit by a pitch, but Reed limited the damage, and the fourth inning ended with the Yankees leading 2-1.

O'Neill doubled and tripled, giving him five straight hits _ two short of the Series record set by Cincinnati's Billy Hatcher in 1990 _ before grounding out his next time up.

Ventura put the Mets ahead 1-0, homering on the first pitch in the bottom of the second.

Notes: At 40, Franco became the second-oldest pitcher to win a Series game. Dolph Luque was 43 when he won for the New York Giants in 1933. ... It was the first World Series game at Shea since the Mets beat Boston in Game 7 in 1986. ... Derek Jeter singled twice and extended his World Series hitting streak to 12 games. ... Before the game, Agbayani asked the Mets' scoreboard operators to put up a cartoon figure with the words ``Hawaiian Punch'' every time he bats, instead of just when he gets a big hit.