Series: Game 1 of 3

NY Mets leads 1-0 (as of 4/18)

Game 1: Friday, April 18
NY Mets6
Game 2: Saturday, April 19
NY Mets5
Game 3: Sunday, April 20
NY Mets7

Marlins 3

(8-10, 3-6 away)

Mets 6

(7-10, 4-3 home)

    7:10 PM ET, April 18, 2003

    Shea Stadium, Flushing, New York 

    123456789 R H E
    FLA 000300000 3 9 1
    NYM 10001013 - 6 12 2

    W: D. Weathers (1-0)

    L: V. Nunez (0-2)

    S: A. Benitez (5)

    Clark's first career pinch-hit homer beats Marlins

    NEW YORK (AP) -- Tony Clark knew exactly what he would be called on to do. What he didn't know was where his batting helmet was.

    Wearing the helmet of teammate Jeromy Burnitz, Clark hit his first career pinch-hit homer, a three-run shot in the eighth inning that sent the New York Mets to a 6-3 win over the Florida Marlins on Friday night.

    "I couldn't find my left-handed helmet anywhere," said Clark, signed in the spring to give the Mets a switch-hitter with power on the bench.

    Mo Vaughn and Mike Piazza also knocked in runs for the Mets, who have won three of four following a six-game losing streak. Ty Wigginton tied it at 3 with a two-out RBI single in the seventh.

    Clark, a first baseman, signed a minor league contract with the Mets after the start of spring training. He hit .207 with three homers and 29 RBI in 275 at-bats with the Boston Red Sox last year. The former AL All-Star began the season at Triple-A Norfolk.

    With Vaughn as the Mets' regular first baseman, Clark knew he would be relegated mostly to pinch-hitting duty.

    "`My job is real clear on this ballclub. My role is real clear," Clark said. "I'm just thankful to have this job."

    He hit a go-ahead homer for the Mets last week against Montreal in Puerto Rico, but Armando Benitez blew the save.

    Not this time.

    Benitez pitched the ninth for his fifth save in eight chances, getting Luis Castillo to ground into a double play with two on to end it.

    Roger Cedeno singled off Vladimir Nunez (0-2) with one out in the eighth and Roberto Alomar walked on four pitches. Clark batted for light-hitting shortstop Rey Sanchez and hit a 1-1 splitter over the right-center fence for his third homer this season.

    "That's the pitch I wanted, right down inside," Nunez said. "He made good contact. That's the pitch I use to get a groundball."

    David Weathers (1-0) worked a scoreless eighth for the victory.

    Derrek Lee drove in two runs for the Marlins, who ran all over Al Leiter, Piazza and the Mets. Stealing four bases in an inning to tie a club record for the second night in a row, the Marlins got three runs in the fourth. The night before, the Marlins did the same thing to Philadelphia.

    "We don't care, as long as we score one more than the other team," Mets manager Art Howe said. "The bottom line is, we limited the damage and won the ballgame."

    The Marlins also stole four bases in an inning against the Mets on May 27 last season, totaling seven against Leiter and Piazza in a 5-3 win at Shea Stadium.

    Wigginton tied it at 3 in the seventh against Nunez, hitting a single with two outs to score Cliff Floyd, who singled off reliever Michael Tejera.

    Leiter had a season-high nine strikeouts. He went six innings, allowing three runs on seven hits and two walks.

    He kept the Marlins from adding an extra run in the sixth, when Lee singled, stole second and went to third on Piazza's throwing error.

    "Leiter did a pretty good job of pitching," Marlins manager Jeff Torborg said. "With a man on third and none out, he struck out the side. That's pretty good pitching."

    Marlins starter Mark Redman was relieved by Tejera to start the sixth after allowing two runs and six hits. Redman struck out seven.

    Piazza bounced a throw off the mound trying to catch Castillo stealing in the fourth, then threw the ball into center field for an error when Juan Encarnacion stole second after driving in Castillo.

    Mike Lowell stole second without a throw before scoring on Lee's two-run double, and Mike Mordecai stole second after the Mets walked him with two outs to get to Redman.

    Encarnacion stole second again in the fifth, and Lee's steal in the sixth drew another throw -- and another error -- by Piazza.

    "This game is very humbling and it's not easy. I've got to keep on going out there and working on it," Piazza said. "Everyone has been really supportive. My teammates, obviously, picked up for me. ... I've just got to go out there and work on it."

    He atoned with an RBI single in the fifth to make it 3-2. Vaughn gave the Mets a 1-0 lead when he drove in Piazza with a single in the first inning.

    Game notes
    Leiter made his 300th major league start. Leiter, in his sixth season with the Mets, is the longest-tenured player on the team behind only the 14 seasons of reliever John Franco, who is on the disabled list. ... Encarnacion has reached base safely in 15 of 16 games. ... Wigginton received an ovation for trying to bowl over Marlins C Mike Redmond at the plate in the sixth inning. ... Mets RHP Pedro Astacio (shoulder tendinitis) pitched 5 2/3 innings in a rehabilitation start for Class-A Port St. Lucie. He allowed five hits, struck out five and didn't walk a batter.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press