You have to wonder how long Jerry Manuel can hang on as the Mets' manager after the fiasco in the Subway Series.

Forget yesterday's NFL game, won by the Yankees, 15-0. It was horrible baseball that put the manager's job on the line.

On Friday night Mets second baseman Luis Castillo dropped what should have been a game-ending pop-up, allowing the Yanks to pull out a 9-8 win and hand closer Francisco Rodriguez a strange loss.

Yankees reliever Brian Bruney, on a rehab assignment with the Trenton Thunder, chimed in from 90 miles away.

"It couldn't happen to a better guy on the mound," he told the New York Daily News. "He's got a tired act."

Bruney recalled a K-Rod miscue a couple of years ago, when Rodriguez was so busy complaining about an umpire's ball/strike call, he missed the throw back from the catcher and let the winning run score from third.

After the game Saturday, Rodriquez returned fire.

"Instead of sending a message to the paper, why not see me at Citi Field and say something to me?" K-Rod told reporters. "I don't know who the guy is. He hasn't pitched in a full season. He'd better keep his mouth shut and do his job."

Before yesterday's game at Yankee Stadium, teammates had to separate the two relievers. Don't touch that dial!

Cubs lay blame on coach

The Chicago Cubs were hitting a soft .246 and ranked among the league's worst on offense yesterday, so general manager Jim Hendry took a stern step - he fired hitting coach Gerald Perry.

The Cubs batted .278 last season - their best average in 71 years - while scoring an NL-leading 855 runs under Perry's tutelage. Entering yesterday's game, they were 13th in batting and 14th in runs (250).

The two biggest culprits are high-priced stars Alfonso Soriano, who is hitting .229, and Milton Bradley, who's hitting .227 when he's not forgetting how many outs constitute an inning.

They, of course, still have their jobs.

Torrealba's ordeal

Colorado Rockies catcher Yorvit Torrealba spoke for the first time about the kidnapping of his son, Yorvit Eduardo, nearly two weeks ago in Venezuela.

"It's something I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy," he said. "For three days I couldn't sleep, I couldn't drink water. I felt like my hands were tied and I couldn't do anything."

The boy was rescued by police and now is with his parents in Denver.


The Mets' Gary Sheffield said he would get an MRI exam on his sore right knee, which has been bothering him for a couple of weeks. . . . Colorado setup man Taylor Buchholz will have season-ending Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. The righthander, a former Phillies minor-leaguer who is from Springfield High in Delaware County, has been on the disabled list all season. . . . Closer Jonathan Broxton rejoined the Dodgers in Arlington, Texas, after missing a game to be with wife Elizabeth for the birth of their first child, Jonathan Brooks. He then earned his 16th save.