|N.Y. Mets (5-5) «||3||0||0||0||0||0||1||0||1||5||13||0|
NEW YORK -- Gary Sheffield crossed home plate and thrust his arms in the air after unleashing his 500th homer with another vicious swing, and then the surly slugger was humbled by the site of his new Mets teammates pouring out of the dugout.
Sheffield was greeted with hugs and high fives after becoming the 25th player to reach the milestone with a tying homer in the seventh inning Friday. The party switched focus in the bottom of the ninth when Luis Castillo hit a two-out, run-scoring single to give the Mets a 5-4 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers.
"I was so excited that, you know, when I looked over to the dugout, those were the guys," said Sheffield, who signed with New York on April 4 after being released by Detroit four days earlier. "I appreciate every one of those guys. They've been very special to me."
Sheffield, a nine-time All-Star, was on as a pinch hitter and sent a full-count pitch an estimated 385 feet for his first hit of the season.
"Just to join that 500 club, you know. Now I can say I'm in the club and, you know, it's like getting your degree. Nobody can never take that away from you," Sheffield said.
After squandering a bases-loaded opportunity in the eighth, Carlos Delgado doubled off Seth McClung (0-1) to start the ninth. Delgado scored on Castillo's single to short, when a diving J.J. Hardy couldn't deliver the throw to first in time to get Castillo.
Castillo was mobbed by his teammates after he touched first base.
"It was huge for him," Manager Jerry Manuel said. "He really has shown a lot of energy, you know, a lot of fight, and I kind of had the feeling that he wanted to be in that situation tonight, and that's a good thing."
New York's revamped bullpen gave up just one hit over the final four innings, with J.J. Putz (1-0) pitching a perfect ninth for his first win with the Mets.
At 40 years, 143 days, Sheffield became the fourth-oldest player to hit 500 home runs behind Willie McCovey (40 years, 171 days), Eddie Murray (40, 194) and Ted Williams (41, 291).
Sheffield pumped both arms in the air as he began to round the bases, with cameras flashing throughout Citi Field. He touched home plate and pointed to the sky with both arms before hugging on-deck batter Jose Reyes.
Fans gave Sheffield a prolonged ovation. He raced up the dugout steps for a curtain call, waving his helmet to the crowd of 36,436.
"That was just a great reception," Sheffield said. "I was so numb at that time."
The homer, his second as a pinch-hitter, tied the score at 4-all. It was caught by Chris Matcovich, a 22-year-old Mets fan from Suffern, N.Y., wearing a Keith Hernandez jersey.
Matcovich gave Sheffield the ball in exchange for signed jerseys for he and a few friends, and he posed for a photo with the 22-year veteran, who held the specially marked ball in one hand and raised five fingers with the other.
"I was never, ever going to drop it, that's basically what went through my mind at that point," said Matcovich, who caught it on the fly. "I wanted nothing but to just give it back to Gary. It was his ball, not mine."
Sheffield was appreciative of the gesture.
"A couple guys on the team kept saying it's going to cost you $500,000 to get that ball back. Are you willing to pay it?" Sheffield said. "I mean, that was, you know, special for him to do that. You know, he didn't have to do that."
Known as much for his outspoken personality as he is for a swing that made him one of the most feared hitters in the game, Sheffield joined Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Barry Bonds, Frank Robinson and Reggie Jackson as the only players with 500 homers and at least 2,500 hits, 1,500 RBI and 200 stolen bases.
Sheffield was 0-for-4 with three walks for the Mets before the home run. He made his first start of the season Wednesday.
It was fitting that his homer came against the Brewers. Sheffield was drafted by the organization in 1986.
"I wished it didn't come at that time but you gotta tip your cap," Milwaukee's Prince Fielder said. "I mean, he's had a great career. Also, when he got it man, I mean that was a great at-bat as well. He fouled off some great pitches and he was able to do it. I didn't want to lose the game but I'm happy he was able to reach a goal like that."
New York was coming off its first series loss at Citi Field, but went ahead 3-0 in the first inning behind a sacrifice fly from Delgado, a walk to Ramon Castro with the bases loaded and an RBI single by Castillo.
Livan Hernandez couldn't hold the lead, though, and gave up seven hits and four runs in five-plus innings, including Braun's first homer of the season.
|The Mets fans know it and so does Gary Sheffield after he hits his historic home run. (Getty Images)|
|Players of the Game|
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|Rickie Weeks, 2B||4||1||1||0||0||2||2||.256|
|Corey Hart, RF||4||1||1||0||0||1||0||.250|
|Ryan Braun, LF||4||1||1||3||0||0||0||.216|
|Prince Fielder, 1B||3||0||0||0||1||1||0||.182|
|J.J. Hardy, SS||4||0||0||0||0||1||1||.139|
|Mike Cameron, CF||4||1||1||0||0||0||0||.355|
|Bill Hall, 3B||4||0||2||0||0||1||0||.310|
|Seth McClung, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Mike Rivera, C||3||0||1||1||0||0||1||.429|
|Dave Bush, P||2||0||1||0||0||0||1||.200|
|a- Chris Duffy, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Mitch Stetter, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Todd Coffey, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Craig Counsell, 3B||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.286|
|a-hit into fielder's choice for Bush in the 7th|
|2B - Mike Rivera (2, Green)|
|HR - Ryan Braun (1, Hernandez)|
|SF - Mike Rivera (1)|
|RBI - Ryan Braun 3 (5), Mike Rivera (1)|
|Team LOB - 4|
|DP - Bush-Hardy-Fielder|
|Mitch Stetter (BS,1)||0.1||2||1||1||2||1||1||6.75|
|Seth McClung (L,0-1)||0.2||2||1||1||1||1||0||5.87|
|IBB - Church by Dave Bush, Wright by Mitch Stetter, Church by Seth McClung|
|WP - Mitch Stetter (2)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Dave Bush 93-51, Mitch Stetter 29-14, Todd Coffey 26-13, Seth McClung 17-8|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Dave Bush 8-5, Todd Coffey 3-1, Seth McClung 1-0|
|Batters Faced - Dave Bush 26, Mitch Stetter 5, Todd Coffey 8, Seth McClung 5|
|New York Mets|
|Jose Reyes, SS||5||1||3||0||0||0||0||.286|
|Daniel Murphy, LF||4||1||1||0||1||1||0||.286|
|J.J. Putz, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|David Wright, 3B||3||1||2||0||2||0||3||.342|
|Carlos Delgado, 1B||3||1||1||1||1||0||1||.342|
|Carlos Beltran, CF||5||0||1||0||0||2||6||.316|
|Ryan Church, RF||3||0||0||0||2||0||4||.382|
|Ramon Castro, C||3||0||2||1||1||1||0||.214|
|Alex Cora, PR||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Omir Santos, C||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Luis Castillo, 2B||5||0||2||2||0||0||2||.387|
|Livan Hernandez, P||2||0||0||0||0||1||3||.000|
|Pedro Feliciano, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Sean Green, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|a- Gary Sheffield, PH||1||1||1||1||0||0||0||.200|
|Bobby Parnell, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|b- Jeremy Reed, PH-LF||1||0||0||0||0||1||1||.286|
|a-homered for Green in the 7th|
|b-struck out for Parnell in the 8th|
|2B - Carlos Delgado (3, McClung)|
|HR - Gary Sheffield (1, Stetter)|
|SF - Carlos Delgado (2)|
|RBI - Carlos Delgado (13), Ramon Castro (3), Luis Castillo 2 (4), Gary Sheffield (1)|
|2-OUT RBI - Ramon Castro (1), Luis Castillo 2 (3)|
|CS - David Wright (2, 2nd base by Bush/Rivera)|
|Team LOB - 13|
|DP - Wright-Castillo-Delgado|
|New York Mets|
|J.J. Putz (W,1-0)||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||1.50|
|WP - Sean Green (1)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Livan Hernandez 92-61, Pedro Feliciano 5-3, Sean Green 28-19, Bobby Parnell 15-9, J.J. Putz 11-5|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Livan Hernandez 5-6, Pedro Feliciano 1-0, Sean Green 3-0, Bobby Parnell 1-1, J.J. Putz 1-2|
|Batters Faced - Livan Hernandez 21, Pedro Feliciano 1, Sean Green 6, Bobby Parnell 4, J.J. Putz 3|
|Attendance - 36436|
|Game Time - 3:18|
|Temperature - 59|
|Umpires - Home - Derryl Cousins, First Base - Jim Joyce, Second Base - Bill Miller, Third Base - Brian Runge|