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Benitez gets standing ovation after 18th save

6/26/2003

NEW YORK (AP) -- Mets closer Armando Benitez was greeted by a chorus of boos and left to a rousing ovation.

Benitez retired all six batters he faced, getting New York out of a bases-loaded jam in the eighth inning, and rookie Jose Reyes
drove in three runs as the Mets ended a four-game losing streak with a 6-3 win over the Florida Marlins.

Mets manager Art Howe couldn't have been more pleased with Benitez's poise.

"Armando was as good as it gets tonight," Howe said. "There was no margin for error. It's important to always get back on track."

Steve Trachsel pitched seven sharp innings and had a sacrifice, but all his praise went to Benitez.

"It was awesome, nasty," Trachsel said of Benitez. "That's the Armando we know."

Reyes, a 20-year-old shortstop from the Dominican Republic, had an RBI hit in the second and a two-run single with the bases loaded in the sixth inning to make it 5-3. He has driven in 11 of his 14 runs with the bases loaded. Reyes has a single, triple and a home run in his four at-bats in that situation.

Consecutive singles by Jeromy Burnitz and Jason Phillips and an intentional walk to Tsuyoshi Shinjo, who is hitting .178, setting up Reyes' single.

"I didn't feel insulted," Reyes said of the intentional walk to Shinjo. "Well if they are going to pitch to me, I'm going to put the ball in play."

Trachsel (6-5) allowed three runs and eight hits while striking out five.

"I made a few mistakes up in the zone," said Trachsel, who gave up home runs to Mike Lowell and Ivan Rodriguez. "I am never throwing a changeup again (to Rodriguez)."

Benitez was booed loudly by the Shea Stadium crowd when he relieved David Weathers with the bases-loaded and none out in the top of the eighth inning.

"I heard a lot about the fans. Fans come to see the Mets win," Benitez said. "If I was a fan, I would do the same."

But Benitez was given a standing ovation after striking out Derrek Lee and Alex Gonzalez, and getting Miguel Cabrera to fly out to right.

He retired three straight in the ninth to finish for his 18th save in 23 chances.

"I guess he was trying to make up for what he did last Sunday against the Yankees," Marlins manager Jack McKeon said of Benitez, who blew a save in the ninth inning of Sunday's 7-3 loss to the New York Yankees.

"But he didn't have to face any left-handers who can pop it out of the park."

The Marlins squandered 2-0 and 3-2 leads and lost for the first time in six games.

Lowell hit a two-out, two-run homer in the first inning off Trachsel to give the Marlins the early lead. Lowell's major league-leading 24th homer -- 100th all-time -- matched his career-best, set last season in 597 at-bats.

Mark Redman (5-3) allowed five runs and seven hits in six innings.

"He made too many good pitches -- he threw too many strikes," McKeon said. "When he got hit, his pitches were up. He's usually a guy who nibbles off the plate, but he didn't do that tonight."

Reyes' RBI single and Trachsel's sacrifice fly tied it 2-all in the bottom of the second inning.

Rodriguez's ninth homer gave the Marlins a 3-2 lead in the top of the third before Jeromy Burnitz hit his 12th homer, a solo shot, to even the game in the bottom half.

Vance Wilson's sacrifice fly in the seventh made it 6-3.

Game notes
Mets LF Cliff Floyd was pulled out of the starting lineup because of his sore right Achilles' tendon. Howe decided to give Floyd the night off after batting practice and said he's day to day. "If I can run, I'm playing," Floyd said. ... The Marlins are 11-27 in their last 38 games against New York. ... Juan Encarnacion went 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and a single for Florida.