September 25, 2004: Diaz and Brazell Come Through in the Clutch

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Date: September 25, 2004
Mets starter: Aaron Heilman
Mets: 4
Cubs: 3
Winning pitcher: Jae Seo
Key player(s): Victor Diaz, Craig Brazell
Key play: Diaz’s homer in 9th, Brazell’s homer in 11th

The Mets faced the Cubs on a Saturday afternoon at Shea Stadium. The teams played the middle game of a three-game series in the penultimate weekend of the season. Rookies Victor Diaz and Craig Brazell came through with clutch home runs to give the Mets a 4-3 win in 11 innings over Chicago.

Aaron Heilman and the Cubs’ Mark Prior each pitched a scoreless first inning. In the top of the second, Nomar Garciaparra led off with a single to left field. Todd Walker followed with a home run to give Chicago a 2-0 lead. Paul Bako flied out to left fielder Eric Valent and a pair of strikeouts to Prior and Corey Patterson ensued. The Mets were held to a leadoff single by Mike Piazza in the bottom of the inning. Heilman and Prior followed up with scoreless ball from the third inning to the fifth. Mets’ reliever Tyler Yates pitched a perfect top of the sixth. Prior then set down the Mets 1-2-3 in the bottom half.

Yates and reliever Mike Stanton combined to retired the Cubs in order in the top of the seventh inning. Prior set down all three New York batters in the bottom half and singled to open the top of the eighth. Stanton struck out Patterson and Mets’ reliever Bartolome Fortunato walked Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez to load the bases. Reliever Heath Bell issued a walk to Moises Alou to force home Prior with the third Chicago run. Bell struck out Sammy Sosa and got Garciaparra on an inning-ending ground ball to second baseman Jeff Keppinger. The Met had runners at first and third base with two outs against Prior in the bottom half. Cubs’ reliever Ryan Dempster then retired Piazza on a force play grounder to newly-inserted shortstop Neifi Perez for the third out.

Bell pitched a scoreless top of the ninth inning. To begin the bottom half, Dempster struck out Todd Zeile and followed up with walks to Valent and Jason Phillips. LaTroy Hawkins came in to pitch for Chicago and retired Keppinger on a fly ball to right fielder Sosa. With the Mets down to their last out, Diaz hit a three-run homer to tie the game. Hawkins then threw a called third strike past Gerald Williams to end the inning.

Mets’ reliever Ricky Bottalico retired Lee on a pop-up to Keppinger to open the top of the 10th. Ramirez singled to center field and Alou drew a walk. Bottalico got Sosa to hit a grounder to shortstop Wilson Delgado for an inning-ending double play. For the Cubs, Michael Wuertz pitched a perfect bottom half. Reliever Jae Seo then held Chicago to a pinch-hit double by Michael Barrett in a scoreless top of the 11th inning.

Brazell led off the bottom of the 11th against Cubs’ reliever Kent Mercker. Craig hit his first major league home run to end the game. The Mets had a dramatic come-from-behind victory on the late slugging of two rookie players.


  • Brazell’s homer turned out to be the only one of his major league career.
  • For Mercker, the loss was his only one as a member of the Cubs in his 18-year career.