After 12-1/2 years behind the plate, during which he became Major League Baseball's greatest home run-hitting catcher, the 1986 Phoenixville Area High School product has changed positions to save the wear and tear on his legs.

Piazza, who surpassed Carlton Fisk's mark of 351 home runs earlier this month, returned home as the Mets opened a three-game series against the Phillies Monday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park.

The Mets wound up beating the Phillies, 5-3, to end a marathon day that included two lengthy rain delays, including one that delayed the start of the game by an hour.

"We had a frustrating weekend in Florida," said Piazza. "This was a real peculiar day, weird. It is 8:15 and we're getting out of here. You can't take anything for granted. It was definitely a challenge staying in the game the whole day. It was just a strange day from the start."

Piazza went 1-for-3 with a single and intentional walk. He lined out to left field in his first at-bat in the first inning and popped out to shortstop in the sixth. His hit went to deep second base leading off the eighth inning, after which he left the game for a pinch runner.

Batting out of the cleanup position in the batting order, Piazza started the day batting .312 to lead the Mets along with 10 home runs and 22 runs batted in.

The Mets (24-26) used six pitchers for the victory and the Phillies used five as both Mets manager Art Howe and Phillies counterpart Larry Bowa cleared their benches.

"Obviously, the staff did a great job and the bullpen was a big lift for us," Piazza said.

Piazza has always worn out Phillies pitching so he heard a mixture of cheers and boos from the crowd of 43,620 fans, the Phillies' 12th sellout of the 2004 campaign. There were Mets fans in the mix as well.

He was asked about hitter-friendly Citizens Bank Park.

"The ballpark is beautiful," Piazza said. "It is nice. I liked the old place (Veterans Stadium). I grew up there, but they needed new facilities here. It's a good, nice place."

Piazza goes about his business in a professional manner. He committed an error on a ball hit by Chase Utley to open the fifth inning that led to two unearned runs.

"It was just one of those things," Piazza said. "He hits the ball hard. I felt I had a beat on it, but it had jump on it. I am just trying to continue to get better out there. It is an everyday thing of learning. I have to make some plays and do the best I can."

He also said there was trouble with the tarp that saturated the field, making matters even more difficult than normal.

He is also staying in shape in case he is needed to return to the catching position. Jason Phillips started Monday's game behind the plate and hit a solo homer in the fourth inning.

"There is no substitute for playing," Piazza said. "You have to have a good attitude, stay in the best shape and not get down. I can't hang my head. I am just fortunate. It is a team situation."

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