MIAMI (AP) -- Pinch-hitter Josh Willingham kept his cool rounding
the bases until he passed third. Then, approaching a mob of Florida Marlins teammates already celebrating his game-winning home run, he
flipped his helmet into the air.
"I didn't know what else to do. I think I saw someone do it
once on TV," Willingham said. "I knew they were going to pound me
on the head. I was hoping they wouldn't do it as much with the
helmet off, but it didn't seem to matter."
Jose Reyes hit 17 triples in 2005 and he hit his 13th triple this year in the Mets game in Florida Tuesday night. Reyes is the first National League player to have 30-or-more triples over a two-season span since Juan Samuel hit 32 for the Phillies spanning 1984 (19) and 1985 (13).• For more Elias Says, click here
Willingham's two-run homer off Billy Wagner (3-2) with one out
in the ninth inning beat the New York Mets 6-5 Tuesday night."It was just an unbelievable feeling," Willingham said. "To
win one like that, to kind of steal one from them, it's good."Miguel Olivo singled on the first pitch to start the ninth and
reached second on a sacrifice. Willingham pulled the first pitch
over the scoreboard for his 16th homer and his first pinch-hit of
the season, snapping New York's four-game winning streak."What can you say? A bloop, a bunt and a bomb," said Wagner,
who blew a save for the fifth time in 27 chances. The homer came on
a fastball down the middle."It started in and then ran back across the plate," Wagner
said. "You make a bad pitch like that and you pay for it. I missed
my spot by about 17 inches."The Marlins overcame an early 4-1 deficit. The game-ending homer
was their first since Mike Lowell hit one on May 29, 2004 -- also
against the Mets. The 186-game stretch between walk-off homers was
the longest in the majors."It's one of the most dramatic moments we've had this season,"
outfielder Cody Ross said. "I was jumping up in the air. It was
like I was back in high school."Matt Herges (1-2) pitched a scoreless ninth for the win.The Mets' Carlos Beltran hit his fifth home run in three games
and his 33rd of the season. The two-run homer gave him 14 RBI in
the past four games."You have a good day, but you want to be able to focus on the
win and not a tough loss like this," Beltran said.New York's Jose Reyes broke a 4-all tie when he homered to start
the seventh. He also tripled and scored three times.Marlins starter Scott Olsen, who had won his past three starts,
struck out 10 but allowed four runs in six innings. Mets starter
Mike Pelfrey allowed seven hits and four runs in six innings.NL East leader New York fell to 22-11 in one-run games, while
Florida improved to 13-20. The crowd of 16,641 had divided
loyalties, with chants of "Let's Go Mets!" by transplanted New
Yorkers answered with jeers from Marlins fans.When Willingham delivered the game-winner, it was all cheers for
Florida."Sometimes allegiances can switch," Marlins manager Joe
Girardi said.Willingham homered for the fourth time in his past 10 at-bats."I can't explain it," he said. "It's one of the crazy things
about baseball."Hanley Ramirez hit his 10th homer for Florida. Marlins center
fielder Alfredo Amezaga struck out with the bases loaded to end the
sixth and misplayed a fly ball in the Mets' three-run third.Amezaga failed to retreat on Reyes' liner and let the ball carry
over his head for a triple. Paul Lo Duca then hit an RBI single
past a drawn-in infield, and Beltran homered for a 4-1 lead.Florida tied the game in the fourth, scoring three runs with two
outs. Ramirez hit a two-run homer, and Olivo and Olsen followed
with back-to-back doubles. Olsen's extra-base hit was his first in
35 career at-bats.A baserunning stumble cost the Mets a run in the first inning.
Reyes slipped and fell rounding third with a chance to score on a
potential triple by Beltran. Reyes retreated safely to third, but
Beltran was caught making a wide turn at second and tagged out.Reyes then scored on Carlos Delgado's two-out single.The Mets defense gave up a run in the first when right fielder
Lastings Milledge, recalled Monday from Triple-A Norfolk, lost a
routine two-out fly in the setting sun and let it drop for a
single. That put runners at first and second, and Ross doubled for
a one-all tie.
Milledge scraped his left hand when he was spiked sliding into
second base in the eighth and left the game. He said he'll be
available to play Wednesday. ... Mets setup man Duaner Sanchez had
season-ending shoulder surgery. ... Beltran leads the NL with 22
road homers, one shy of Howard Johnson's 1987 team record. ...
Olivo had two hits on the first pitch, hiking his average to .538
when he puts the first pitch in play. ... Reyes' 10th homer tied a
record for Mets shortstops.