<
>

Beltran's homer helps El Duque win Mets debut

MIAMI (AP) -- Orlando Hernandez got a little helpful advice from
his new teammates en route to winning his first start with the New
York Mets.

Hernandez pitched five innings and Carlos Beltran homered in the
Mets' 7-3 victory over the Florida Marlins on Sunday.

Hernandez (3-4), who was acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks
on Wednesday, allowed three runs and five hits in five innings. He
struck out seven and walked three.

Hernandez credited Mets veterans Pedro Martinez and Julio Franco
for helping him through his 101-pitch performance.

"From the dugout, they told me I was opening up too much on my
pitches," Hernandez said. "That's what I like -- to be told right
away what you're doing wrong."

The Mets never trailed after scoring four runs off Marlins
starter Ricky Nolasco in the first. Florida cut it to 5-3 but
Beltran hit a two-run homer in the fourth, his 14th of the season.

Jose Reyes also finished with three hits as the Mets won their
third straight series.

Beltran also had a key bunt single to load the bases in New
York's big first inning. Cliff Floyd and David Wright had RBI
singles, Carlos Delgado drove in a run with a groundout and Jose
Valentin added a sacrifice fly in the first.

"That's the way I like to play the game," Beltran said of his
first-inning hit. "I just feel sometimes you need to sacrifice for
the team and the first inning was a good position to sacrifice the
guys over."

New York manager Willie Randolph supported his hitter's decision
to bunt from the third slot in the lineup.

"That's part of his game," Randolph said. "I don't mind it
because he does it when he has to do it. He's a team player."

Valentin singled in Delgado to give the Mets a 5-3 lead in the
third.

Nolasco (3-2) allowed seven runs and 10 hits in four innings. He
made his second start of the season after 11 appearances as a
reliever.

"I just wanted to stay aggressive in the zone and keep making
pitches," Nolasco said. "Maybe some things didn't happen here and
there but that's baseball. Everybody is still giving it their
all."

An offseason Miami resident, Hernandez admitted to added tension
pitching before friends and hometown fans. Sunday's attendance of
17,488 was the highest in the three-game series.

"I appreciated the Marlins fans because even though they wanted
the Marlins to win they wanted me to pitch well," the Cuban
pitcher said. "That's why I love Miami so much."

Hernandez started Sunday to give Steve Traschel an extra day's
rest because of back spasms.

"He's the kind of pitcher that knows how to manage a game and
knows how to make pitches when he has to," Randolph said.

Jeremy Hermida hit a three-run homer off Hernandez in the second
inning to pull Florida within one. Hermida hit Hernandez's 1-1
pitch over the right-field wall for his first home run of the
season.

"I don't believe in moral victories but I also want them to
understand that they gave the effort out there," Marlins manager
Joe Girardi said. "You can see the improvement and with a young
ballclub you have to look at the positives and build from there."

Game notes
Mets C Paul Lo Duca extended his hitting streak to 12
with a single in the fourth. ... The Mets are 11-4-2 in series this
season. ... The Marlins have hit home runs in six consecutive
games. ... Miguel Cabrera's streak of two hits in each of his last
four games ended Sunday. Cabrera went hitless in three at-bats.