Mets nearly waste three-run lead

NEW YORK (AP) -- Chris Woodward gave the New York Mets a lead the
bullpen could finally protect.

Woodward hit a tiebreaking RBI single in the eighth after the
Mets blew a late three-run lead, and New York held on through a
shaky ninth for a 7-6 victory over the Florida Marlins on Friday

"Our defense cracked tonight," Marlins manager Jack McKeon
said. "We had plenty of scoring opportunities, again."

The Marlins left 11 men on base and committed three errors, two
by third baseman Mike Lowell in the same inning. The Mets'
struggling bullpen blew a 6-3 lead in the eighth inning and closer
Braden Looper put runners on first and second before finishing for
his 17th save.

"Anytime you get the tying run in scoring position with none
out in the ninth, it gets a little hairy," said Looper, who gave
up a leadoff double to Carlos Delgado.

With the score tied 6-all, Marlon Anderson led off the eighth
for the Mets with a double over Florida center fielder Juan
Pierre's head. He advanced on a sacrifice by Ramon Castro and
scored on Woodward's single off Jim Mecir (1-3) to put the Mets
back out in front.

"He likes to get ahead with a sinker," Woodward said. "I
didn't want to let anything go that was over the plate. I know he
has a good palmball. He made a good pitch, actually, it was down,
but I was able to get a good swing on it."

Roberto Hernandez (3-2) pitched an inning for the win.

Mike Cameron homered to lead off the seventh and put the Mets
ahead 6-3, but New York's bullpen couldn't protect it.

The Marlins tied it in the top of the eighth. Paul Lo Duca
singled, Juan Encarnacion walked, and Alex Gonzalez hit a two-run
double off Aaron Heilman. Gonzalez scored to make it 6-all when,
Luis Castillo hit a two-out single that went off Hernandez's glove.

"I like the way the guys battled back," McKeon said.

The Marlins got on the board first with back-to-back doubles by
Luis Castillo and Miguel Cabrera in the third inning.

In the fourth, New York's David Wright singled up the middle
scoring Cliff Floyd from second to tie it. Wright then stole
second, and scored on Anderson's single to put the Mets up 2-1.

The Marlins retook the lead in the fifth on Lowell's run-scoring
double to right-center and Lo Duca's RBI single.

Poor fielding cost the Marlins a 3-2 lead in the bottom half.
Lowell committed two throwing errors in the inning, allowing the
Mets to put two runners on base with only one out.

"You can lay all the blame on one spot," Lowell said. "That
the difference there."

Cameron followed with an RBI double and Jose Reyes scored on a
wild pitch, just touching the plate with his hand before Marlins
starter A.J. Burnett applied the tag. Burnett protested the call,
and manager McKeon came out to argue as well. Burnett then
proceeded to walk Carlos Beltran, hit Floyd with a pitch to load
the bases and walk Wright to force in a run. He was then replaced
by Nate Bump.

"I just lost my composure," Burnett said.

While walking to the dugout, Burnett gestured to home plate
umpire Randy Marsh and appeared to continue arguing as he left the

Mets' starter Tom Glavine pitched in and out of trouble for five
innings. He gave up nine hits, but allowed just three runs as the
Marlins stranded eight runners in each of the first five innings.

Game notes
The Mets optioned OF Victor Diaz to Triple-A Norfolk after
the game. ... The Marlins did not arrive at their hotel in New York
until after 5 a.m. Friday, after playing past midnight Thursday at
home against the Braves in a game delayed nearly three hours by
rain. ... Miguel Cairo, on the DL with a strained hamstring, went
0-for-5 with four flyouts in a rehab game in the Gulf Coast League.
He will be activated before Saturday's game. ... Mets CF Beltran
batted .198 in June, one of the worst totals in the NL. ... The
start of the game was delayed 36 minutes by rain. Rain was still
falling when Glavine threw the first pitch. ... It was Fireworks
Night at Shea Stadium.