Pierre's clutch drive in ninth inning dooms Mets


MIAMI (AP) -- For the second night in a row, the Florida Marlins rallied late and scored in the ninth inning to beat the New York Mets.

This time the game-winning hit came from Juan Pierre, who drove in two runs with a two-out single off Armando Benitez to give Florida a 4-3 win Thursday night.

"This shows we're not out of any game,'' Pierre said.

"To me it was a lucky hit,'' Benitez said.

The Mets blew a late lead for the third time this week. A
ninth-inning RBI single by Florida's Ivan Rodriguez beat them 3-2
Wednesday, and Benitez (0-2) also blew a save opportunity Sunday
against Montreal.

"The baseball gods are testing us early,'' New York's Cliff
Floyd said. "But we can't hang our heads on this. We have to let
it go.''

The Marlins' comeback spoiled a strong showing by Tom Glavine, who pitched six shutout innings. Floyd homered against his former team, and rookie teammate Ty Wigginton also homered.

Mike Lowell led off the Florida ninth with a single, and
pinch-runner Gerald Williams went to third when Derrek Lee doubled.
After Todd Hollandsworth was intentionally walked to load the
bases, Alex Gonzalez grounded into a forceout at the plate and
pinch-hitter Brian Banks flied to shallow center.

Pierre pulled a 2-1 pitch just inside the line and raced to
first base pumping his fist in jubilation as two runs scored.

"I put a good swing on it, and it found grass,'' Pierre said.
"I'm pretty excited right now.''

Pierre finished 3-for-5, raising his average to .409, and has at
least one hit in all 10 games, a Marlins record at the start of a

Tim Spooneybarger (1-0) pitched a perfect ninth for his first
win with Florida.

Floyd's homer leading off the eighth was his second of the year
and improved his average against the Marlins to .129 (4-for-31)
since they traded him last July.

Glavine allowed five hits and two walks, but the Marlins
stranded three runners in scoring position against him and lost
three on the bases, including Rodriguez, who was tagged out at home
trying to score from second on a single.

Despite giving up four runs in the first inning on opening day,
Glavine has an ERA of 3.52 in three starts for his new team.

"I felt really good about the way I pitched,'' Glavine said.
"I gave us a chance to win.''

With back-to-back one-run losses, the Mets lost two games in the
three-game series and are 4-5.

"This is going to test our mettle to see what we're made of,''
manager Art Howe said.

The hitters in the middle of the Mets' order -- Floyd, Mike Piazza and Mo Vaughn -- are all batting under .200. New York begins
a four-game series Friday against Montreal in San Juan, Puerto

Wigginton's solo homer in the second off Josh Beckett gave the
Mets the lead until the ninth. Four of Wigginton's eight career
home runs have come against the Marlins, including two in the past
three games.

Beckett allowed six hits and two runs in five innings, then
watched the last-place Marlins rally for the second consecutive

"Our first winning streak of the year,'' Beckett said.

Game notes
Miami Heat rookie Caron Butler threw out the ceremonial
first pitch. ... Opponents have stolen just one base in two
attempts against catcher Rodriguez. ... Glavine went 4-0 in four
starts against the Marlins last year with an ERA of 3.52. ...
Florida's Luis Castillo went 0-for-4, ending his hitting streak
against the Mets at 19 games dating to May 24, 2002. ... Glavine
retired nemesis Mike Redmond, who was called out on strikes as a
pinch-hitter in the fifth. That dropped Redmond's lifetime average
against Glavine to .525 (21-for-40).