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Allowed to hit, Rodriguez makes Mets pay

4/10/2003

MIAMI (AP) -- Maybe the New York Mets had the right idea when they walked Ivan Rodriguez five times a night earlier.

Rodriguez got some pitches to hit on Wednesday night and he delivered, homering and lining a game-winning single in the bottom of the ninth inning to give the Florida Marlins a 3-2 victory.

"I'm going to be aggressive, man,'' said Rodriguez, who was 2-for-3 Wednesday with two more walks. "The other day they didn't want to take a chance, but I was still aggressive. They throw me a pitch to hit, I'm going to swing.''

Rodriguez also came up with the key defensive play in the top of the ninth.

After Armando Almanza hit Mo Vaughn with a pitch to start the ninth, pinch-runner Joe McEwing was picked off first base by Rodriguez, a perennial Gold Glove winner.

"Pudge, he's some player,'' said Marlins manager Jeff Torborg. "That pickoff, if you almost blinked you would have missed the throw. He's the quickest son of a gun I've ever seen behind the plate.''

Marlins closer Braden Looper (1-0) struck out the only two batters he faced for the win.

Mike Stanton (0-1), who hadn't allowed a run in his first four
appearances of the season, took the loss for the Mets.

"That's just not acceptable,'' said Stanton. "You just can't go out there and throw the ball. You have to pitch. If you don't make quality pitches, they're going to beat you.''

The Marlins won after their ninth started with two quick outs.
Juan Pierre extended his hitting streak to nine games with a bloop
single and moved to second on Luis Castillo's single.

Rodriguez followed with a liner to right-center. The Marlins
snapped a four-game losing streak against the Mets, dating back to
last season.

"What makes him tough is he goes to right field,'' Stanton
said. "Pudge and I have faced each other a lot. We have a history
and he's a tough out.''

Jeromy Burnitz homered for the Mets.

Florida's A.J. Burnett, making his first start of the season,
allowed two runs on five hits in seven innings.

Burnett was projected to be Florida's opening day starter, but
he began the season on the disabled list because of tendinitis in
his right elbow.

"I think it went well,'' Burnett said. "That I was able to go
that far and keep the team in it I think is all right.''

Burnett threw only 80 pitches and finished with four strikeouts
and two walks.

"A.J. was amazing,'' said Torborg. "He was sharp and very
economical with his pitches. He was loose and easy. That's a boost
for us. What an outing, his first time out.''

New York starter Steve Trachsel allowed one run on six hits in
six innings. He allowed one run in seven innings in his only
appearance against Florida last season.

Rey Sanchez, who came into the game with only three hits in 27
at-bats, drove in New York's second run with his second single of
the night.

The Mets took advantage of Burnett's wildness to take a 2-1 lead
in the seventh. Ty Wigginton was hit by a pitch, then moved to
second on a wild pitch, before advancing to third on Burnitz's
groundout. Sanchez's single put the Mets ahead.

The Marlins answered in the bottom of the inning on Castillo's
two-out single. Castillo drove in Alex Gonzalez, who opened the
inning with a double and advanced to third on a groundout. The hit
extended Castillo's hitting streak against the Mets to 19 games.

But the night belonged to Rodriguez.

"That's Pudge, that's why he's an All-Star,'' said Mets manager
Art Howe. "He beat us with his bat and his defense. That's a
pretty good message he sent tonight.''

Game notes
Rodriguez walked in his first at-bat, giving him six
consecutive walks. He struck out his next time up, leaving him one
short of the major league record of seven consecutive walks shared
by four players (Billy Rogell in 1938, Mel Ott in 1943, Eddie
Stanky in 1950 and Jose Canseco in 1992). Rodriguez drew another
walk in the seventh inning. ... Marlins 3B Mike Lowell snapped an
0-for-10 skid with a single in the fourth inning, but he was thrown
out at second trying to stretch it to a double. ... Mets 2B Roberto
Alomar, who came into the game with two extra-base hits in his
first seven games, doubled that total with a double and a triple.
... Pierre's hitting streak matches the Marlins' best ever at the
start of a season, accomplished by three different players (Jeff
Conine in 1997, Preston Wilson in 2000 and Cliff Floyd in 2001).