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Errors in 11th doom Marlins; Mets whittle magic number

MIAMI (AP) -- The New York Mets aren't sitting back on their big
lead.

Paul Lo Duca had three RBI, Jose Reyes had three hits and
Carlos Delgado delivered a game-tying, two-out single in the ninth
inning as the Mets beat the Florida Marlins 7-4 on Wednesday night
-- trimming New York's magic number for winning the NL East to two.

"We don't want to get too crazy about tomorrow or the next
day," Delgado said. "We want to continue to play hard and keep
our intensity level high and look forward to playing in the
playoffs."

The Mets could have clinched the title with a win and Atlanta
sweeping a doubleheader from Philadelphia. The Braves didn't come
through, so the victory cigar manager Willie Randolph had on his
desk is off to Pittsburgh, where the Mets open a series Friday.
Pedro Martinez is set to make his first start since Aug. 14 then.

"These guys can feel it, smell it," Randolph said. "Tonight
we took care of our own business. This is a collective group that
wants to win badly. Hopefully we'll get it done this weekend. It
would be nice to sip some champagne, smoke a cigar."

Josh Willingham homered for the third straight game and Scott
Olsen allowed six hits in eight innings for Florida, which has lost
two straight and fell to fourth in the NL wild-card standings --
three games back of San Diego, a 10-0 winner in Cincinnati.

The Marlins open a 10-game road trip in Atlanta on Friday.

"We're not dead. Two tough losses," Marlins manager Joe
Girardi said. "We need a good road trip. There's no secret. We
need a really good road trip, but we're not dead."

No, but they are a team that could have used a late-game dose of
luck -- which never came.

-- Delgado's ninth-inning grounder could have ended the game and
given the Marlins a win, but it skipped off the upper body of a
diving Miguel Cabrera, enabling David Wright to score the tying
run.

-- Jose Valentin, who scored the eventual winning run in the
11th, reached when his liner down the right-field line skimmed off
the top of Wes Helms' glove, as the first baseman's leap was about
two inches shy of what he needed.

-- A possible inning-ending double-play went awry later in the
11th, when Dan Uggla couldn't field Ricky Ledee's grounder cleanly.
That opened the floodgates; Valentin scored on Miguel Olivo's
passed ball, Reyes singled to Hanley Ramirez and the Marlins
shortstop threw the ball into the Mets' dugout in a failed effort
to get Ledee out. Ledee came home, and Lo Duca's second hit scored
Reyes with the final run.

"It was very strange," said Marlins closer Joe Borowski, who
allowed Delgado's single and blew his seventh save in 40 chances.
"Just seemed like somebody was helping them. That's what it felt
like, late in the game."

It was the second straight night Delgado tied the game late; his
three-run, eighth-inning homer helped the Mets rally Tuesday for a
6-4 win. Aaron Heilman (4-4) got the win after throwing two hitless
innings, and Billy Wagner got his 38th save in 43 chances.

"We know that baseball is a crazy game," Delgado said. "We
take it any way that we can."

Matt Herges (1-3) allowed four hits and three runs -- only one
earned -- in 1 2/3 innings for Florida. He gave up Valentin's
one-out double off Helms' glove, the hit that got the Mets rolling.

"We're two inches away from getting Delgado out," Girardi
said. "That's baseball. Sometimes two inches is a lot in the game
of baseball."

Willingham -- who was 8-for-13 with three home runs and six RBI
in the series -- connected on a 3-2 pitch from Tom Glavine for his
25th homer in the sixth inning, a high fly to left that snuck over
the out-of-town scoreboard. It brought home Uggla, who led off with
a single two batters earlier.

That was a temporary momentum shift for Florida, which lost a
2-0 lead when the Mets scored three a half-inning earlier. Lo
Duca's two-run double allowed Glavine and Reyes to score, tying the
game, and Lo Duca scored three batters later on Julio Franco's
single.

Glavine allowed six hits and four runs in six innings.

Game notes
The first 10 flyouts of the game went to right field,
including two where New York right fielder Lastings Milledge made
stellar diving catches; one robbed Ramirez, the other took a hit
from Cody Ross. Not to be outdone, Florida right fielder Joe
Borchard took a hit away from Cliff Floyd in the seventh on a
sliding grab of a sinking liner. ... The Mets have lost only 11 of
47 series.