MIAMI (AP) -- Billy Wagner stood at his locker, spitting tobacco
into a water bottle and savoring the taste of victory.
It didn't come easily. Wagner was on the verge of his second
blown save in as many nights before he struck out the side
Wednesday to seal the New York Mets' 6-5 win over the Florida Marlins.Wagner needed 22 pitches in the ninth inning for his 23rd save
in 28 chances."It would be better if I could just throw nine pitches and get
three guys out every time, but it doesn't seem to work like that,"
he said. "I don't know why."The Marlins committed four errors, which matched their season
high, leading to two unearned runs and a 6-0 deficit by the third
inning.Miguel Cabrera hit a homer and drove in four runs, and Hanley Ramirez also homered to help Florida close the margin to one run.
That set the stage for Wagner, who blew a save Tuesday by giving up
pinch-hitter Josh Willingham's game-ending two-run homer."To go back out there and try to get it done, that's the name
of the game," Wagner said.He quickly found himself in a jam, giving up a single to Wes Helms and hitting pinch-hitter Brian Moehler, a pitcher, trying to
bunt.Ramirez also attempted to sacrifice and fouled off strike three."I'm glad he was bunting," the hard-throwing Wagner said.
"It's not easy to bunt off me."Reaching 97 mph on the scoreboard radar gun, the left-hander
then struck out Dan Uggla and Cabrera."Billy came in and redeemed himself," Mets manager Willie
Randolph said. "A closer's life is difficult at times, and he
understands that. To get him back out there tonight and have him
bounce back after a first-and-second situation is huge for him."The Mets, who have the NL's best record at 64-42, won for the
fifth time in six games. They blew a 4-1 advantage Tuesday but this
time protected their lead -- barely.Roberto Hernandez, making his first appearance since being
reacquired by the Mets, gave up two runs in one inning of relief.
Chad Bradford retired one batter, and Aaron Heilman pitched a
perfect eighth for the second successive night.The Mets improved to 23-11 in one-run games. Florida fell to
13-21."We made them work for it," Marlins manager Joe Girardi said.
"The first three innings weren't as good as the last six. We gave
them too many runs early."Steve Trachsel (10-5) gave up two homers and three runs in 5 2/3
innings but won for the eighth time in his past nine decisions. He
reached 10 victories for the fifth time in six years.The Marlins' Ricky Nolasco (9-7), who had won his previous three
starts, gave up five runs -- four earned -- and departed for a pinch
hitter after only two innings. He fell to 0-3 in three starts
against New York this year with an ERA of 21.13."If you don't make good pitches against the Mets, you can
expect that to happen," said Nolasco, whose ERA against all other
teams is 2.76.Two errors helped the Mets score four runs in the first. Jose Reyes led off with a single, advanced with his 44th stolen base and
came home on Paul Lo Duca's single. Carlos Beltran walked, and
Carlos Delgado singled to load the bases.Cliff Floyd lined a one-out RBI single, and when right fielder
Jeremy Hermida bobbled the ball, Beltran scored. Endy Chavez
reached on a two-out infield hit, and when Nolasco threw wild to
first, another run scored.In the second inning, Beltran surprised the Marlins by bunting
for a hit to load the bases with no outs. Delgado followed with a
sacrifice fly.A throwing error by second baseman Alfredo Amezaga sent another
unearned run home in the third to make it 6-0.In the sixth, Ramirez hit his 11th home run and Cabrera added
his 17th. Cabrera's two-out, two-run single in the seventh cut the
deficit to 6-5."We keep fighting," Ramirez said. "It's 27 outs."
The Marlins placed C Matt Treanor (left shoulder strain) on
the 15-day DL, retroactive to Aug. 1. They selected C Paul Hoover
from Triple-A Albuquerque and transferred RHP Carlos Martinez to
the 60-day DL. ... Floyd argued after being called out on strikes
in the ninth by umpire Andy Fletcher and was ejected when he threw
his bat. ... The Mets have scored 98 runs in the first inning, an
average of almost one per game. ... The Marlins have 13 home runs
in the past six games.