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Benitez blows fourth save chance this season

4/19/2003

NEW YORK (AP) -- The New York Mets fans are already growing tired
of closer Armando Benitez.

Benitez blew his fourth save chance this season, allowing two
runs in the ninth inning of the Mets' 6-5 loss to the Florida
Marlins on Saturday.

"I don't have to worry about this; I know what I can do," said
Benitez, who was booed from the mound to the dugout after the
inning. "I don't worry about a blown save. (Pitchers are) human.
We're not machines."

Luis Castillo hit a game-tying RBI single and Ivan Rodriguez
beat out a potential double-play grounder to drive in the go-ahead
run as the Marlins rallied for the win.

"I played hard until the last out of the game, because in
baseball you can win so many different ways," Rodriguez said.
"You can win with good hustle to first base, and that's what I
did."

Benitez (0-3) matched his blown save total from all of last
season in the first month of the year for the last-place Mets. He
has blown four of nine opportunities this year after converting 33
of 37 in 2002.

"It's only April," Benitez said. "Come back and talk to me in
five months."

This is the third time in five meetings this season that the
Marlins have beaten the Mets in their last at-bat -- including twice
against Benitez.

"He's a very aggressive pitcher ... our approach is to be
aggressive but be patient because sometimes he has the tendency to
be wild," Rodriguez said. "Here in New York, it's a place that
you have to do everything right all the time. He needs to beat that
and stay strong."

After Roberto Alomar's two-run double gave New York a 5-4 lead
in the eighth, Benitez couldn't close it. He walked Todd
Hollandsworth with one out in the inning and then allowed an
infield hit to Andy Fox.

Juan Pierre then walked to load the bases for Castillo, who tied
the game with a single to left field. Rodriguez followed with a
grounder to shortstop Rey Sanchez, who got the force at second but
Alomar's relay throw was too late as Fox scored the go-ahead run.

"He brings that dimension to the catcher's position: We don't
have to pinch run for him," Marlins coach Jeff Torborg said of
Rodriguez. "We didn't exactly pound the ball, but we got it done.

"That's what we've been preaching all spring long: selection,
patience and playing little ball."

Against Benitez especially, the Marlins fouled off pitch after
pitch in trying to manufacture runs. The Mets reliever threw 37
pitches in one inning.

"We were ready to go," said Fox, whose error in the Mets'
eighth set up Alomar's double. "We had three outs left and you
have to produce. We had some great at-bats."

Braden Looper (2-0) got the win despite allowing Alomar's double
in the eighth.

Florida starter A.J. Burnett allowed three runs and five hits in
5 2-3 innings, and reliever Armando Almanza struck out three of the
five batters he faced, including two batters in the sixth with the
bases loaded to stop the Mets' rally.

Derrek Lee and Alex Gonzalez each had doubles in the sixth
inning to chase Steve Trachsel, who gave up four runs, seven hits
and three walks in five-plus innings.

Trachsel started struggling in the fourth inning, when he got
behind several hitters and walked Gonzalez to load the bases. Juan
Encarnacion scored when shortstop Jay Bell bobbled Todd
Hollandsworth's grounder to cut New York's lead to 2-1.

Trachsel couldn't make it out of the sixth. He gave up a single
to Juan Encarnacion and walked Mike Lowell before allowing an RBI
double by Derrek Lee. Gonzalez then hit a two-run double to make it
4-2 and knock out Trachsel.

"If everyone was perfect, every game would be 0-0," said Roger
Cedeno, who struck out twice and saw a line drive drift over his
head. "I had it rough today, but it's only rough when you lose."

Game notes
After stealing six bases in their loss Friday, the Marlins
stole four Saturday. Piazza caught Luis Castillo trying to steal
second in the first inning, and Gonzalez was tagged on a squeeze
play at home in the sixth. ... When Cedeno struck out to end the
Mets' sixth inning, the Shea Stadium crowd chanted "Timo, Timo,"
calling for Cedeno's replacement to be OF Timo Perez.