Mets plan to pay tribute to 9/11 heroes before finale with Cubs

September 11, 2001, was a day of unprecedented suffering in the history of the United States. Today we remember the terrorist attacks that shook our nation, and tonight the New York Mets and Chicago Cubs pay tribute to the uniformed service men and women during a special pregame ceremony at Citi Field.

For former Mets Mike Piazza and John Franco, tonight's game should jar memories that are sure to draw emotions from fans at the ballpark and those watching via live national television audience. Franco will throw out the ceremonial first pitch to Piazza during the remembrance ceremony at 7:30 p.m.

The Mets' first home game after the horrific attacks came September 21, 2001, during which Piazza belted the go-ahead two-run homer in the eighth inning to boost New York over Atlanta, 3-2. Franco also pitched in that contest.

Members of the New York City Police Department, New York City Fire Department, and many other first responders will participate in the ceremony, during which a 300-foot by 100-foot American flag will be unfurled.

"I don't consider it a celebration," Mets manager Terry Collins told the team's website. "A remembrance is one thing. But to honor those people that risked their lives on that day, they should be honored somehow. They should be. And so to be a part of that game -- and obviously the Mets were the first team to play back in New York after that -- to have that honor again I think is going to be special for the players."

As for what takes place on the field following the remembrance activities, the Mets will start 40-year-old right-hander Miguel Batista. He will make his third start for New York. Batista went 3-2 with a 4.60 ERA in 26 games (1 start) for St. Louis this season, but was released by the Cardinals on June 22.

Batista, who threw six innings against Florida in each of his two starts for the Mets, has faced the Cubs 23 times with six of them starts. He's 2-3 with a 4.99 ERA against Chicago.

Matt Garza, who faces the Mets for the first time in his career, aims to win a third straight start. The righty threw 7 2/3 solid innings in a Labor Day triumph against the Reds. He's 0-3 in seven starts this season vs. teams from the NL East.

Yesterday, Aramis Ramirez singled home two runs with two outs in the top of the ninth to give the Cubs a 5-4 victory.

The teams combined for seven runs in a wild final two innings. After the Cubs scored once in the top of the eighth for a 3-0 lead, the Mets answered with four runs in the bottom of the frame to move in front before the Cubs countered with a two-run rally in the ninth to steal it right back.

New York's fourth error of the contest ignited Chicago's comeback against Bobby Parnell (3-6). David Wright booted Geovany Soto's leadoff grounder to third and Bryan LaHair doubled pinch-runner Lou Montanez to third.

Parnell nearly pitched out of it, as he flagged down Starlin Castro's bouncer for the first out and struck out Reed Johnson. Ramirez then slapped a ball through the hole between first and second to score both runners for a 5-4 lead.

Carlos Marmol worked around a one-out walk in the bottom of the ninth for his 34th save to close out Chicago's fourth win in six games.

Jose Reyes went 1-for-5 to extend his hitting streak to 13 games, while Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro has reached base safely in 23 straight games, a career-best streak. Castro also has an 11-game hitting streak.

Chicago leads the season series, 3-2, with this being the final meeting of 2011. Chicago will try for its first series win in Flushing since taking two- of-three from July 24-26, 2006 at Shea Stadium.