With a four-game sweep on the line against the Diamondbacks, Pedro Martinez began the first inning, as he often does, on a less-than stellar note. He walked Craig Counsell and after getting Chad Tracy to fly out, watched Ramon Castro throw out Counsell trying to steal second base only to then hit Luis Gonzalez and walk Tony Clark.

But then he struck out Troy Glaus to end the inning and thereinafter, summoned his vintage Pedro, striking out the side in the 2nd and holding on to another flirtation with a no-hitter until Gonzalez's one out single in the 6th.

He finished his night after 100 pitches having allowed only two hits and no runs in six innings of work and left with a 2-0 lead. Victor Diaz drove in two runs with a sac fly and a solo homer in the second inning. For a change, the bullpen held the lead for him and afforded Pedro his 13th victory of the season against five losses. The erratic Bradon Looper earned his 26th save of the season with a scoreless 9th inning.

After two nights consecutive nights of hitting hedonism, Met bats returned to normal with only six hits and three runs on the night but it was sufficient as they went on to win 3-1 and complete their four game sweep of the Diamondbacks in Arizona.

Either it is the disabled bats of the Diamondbacks or Mets starters really are that good. In the course of the sweep, Glavine, Zambrano, Seo and Pedro combined to allow a total of only four runs in 29 innings. For those of you counting at home, that's a 1.26 ERA. Pitching and defense win ballgames, so it is alleged, and while the defense is suspect at times, the starting pitching has been superb.

In doing so they also pulled within one and a half games of Philadelphia, which was idle Thursday, in the National League wild-card race, and they remained in a third-place tie with Florida in the National League East.

The Mets' last four-game sweep was Aug. 15-18, 2003, against Colorado at Shea Stadium.


With the unusual four-game sweep in hand, the Mets can now turn their attention to San Francisco and the Bonds-less Giants.

Tonight Steve Trachsel is scheduled to make his 2005 debut, returning after undergoing lower back surgery in March. He had a 1-1 record in two starts against the Giants last season and has an 8-4 record and 2.75 ERA against them in 18 career starts.

He will face Kevin Correia, RHP (2-4, 4.86).

On Saturday, Tom Glavine, who has won three of his last four starts and has a 2.19 ERA over the last 37 innings pitched, will duel against Giants ace Jason Schmidt who is 3-0 with a 3.65 ERA in August and has won four of his last five decisions.

Sunday series finale will pit the rumoured sore-shouldered Kris Benson on extra rest against Noah Lowry, LHP (10-11, 3.81). Lowry is now 4-0 with a 0.58 ERA and 27 strikeouts in August, and his 1.45 post-All-Star break ERA leads the Majors.

Two hot and tough pitchers for the Giants will be a stern test for the newly confident Mets while the Mets have two question marks pitching for them in Trachsel and Benson.

They will be hard-pressed to win this series, momentum or not, even though the Giants are just 55-71 on the season. Since Aug. 4, the Giants have played in a strict sequence of wins and losses:

Three wins, three losses. Two wins, two losses. Three wins, three losses. Two wins, two losses. They sit eight games behind the Padres in the NL West.

Second baseman Ray Durham has been hot since the All-Star break, hitting .342 with 22 RBIs.


Meanwhile, the NL Wildcard chase, the Marlins will travel to Chicago to face the floundering Cubs. The Nats will host the NL-best St Louis Cardinals. The Braves travel to Milwaukee to diminsh the Brewers. The Phillies get their turn against the Diamondbacks and the Astros will travel to LA to face the Dodgers.

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