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Heilman picks up first career win against Phillies

7/22/2003

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Back in a familiar role, John Franco looked
like his old self.

Aaron Heilman earned his first major league victory and Franco
picked up his first save since 2001 as the New York Mets beat the
Philadelphia Phillies 8-6 Monday night.

Franco got the final three outs for his first save since June
19, 2001. The 42-year-old left-hander, who missed all of the 2002
season because of elbow surgery, is second on the all-time saves
list behind Lee Smith with 423. Smith had 478.

"It's nice, but it's just important to get a win right now with
the way we're playing," Franco said. "It's satisfying."

Cliff Floyd, Jason Phillips and Joe McEwing homered as the Mets
stopped a four-game losing streak.

Jim Thome hit his 25th homer and Bobby Abreu drove in four runs
for the NL wild card-leading Phillies, who had won eight of 10.

"We dug a hole for ourselves in the first inning. We can't
always come back," Phillies manager Larry Bowa said.

Heilman (1-2) gave up four runs and seven hits in five innings
in his fifth big league start. The rookie right-hander, the 18th
overall pick in the 2001 amateur draft, had allowed 13 runs in his
previous two outings.

"It's nice to get it out of the way," Heilman said.

Placido Polanco doubled off David Weathers to start the
Phillies' ninth, and Franco relieved. Abreu hit an RBI double with
one out, but Franco retired pinch-hitter Jason Michaels on a
grounder with two runners on to end it.

Franco got the save chance because the Mets do not have a
full-time closer since Armando Benitez was traded to the New York
Yankees last week.

"I'm just happy to be pitching after everything I went
through," Franco said.

Brandon Duckworth (3-4) lasted just 2 2-3 innings, allowing five
runs and six hits. He has pitched six or more innings just three
times in 14 starts.

"It was an embarrassing night," Duckworth said.

Bowa wasn't pleased with the right-hander's performance.

"I don't care if he gives up runs, but to deplete our bullpen,
I don't know how long we can do that. It's killing us," he said.

All-Star reliever Mike Williams, acquired by the Phillies from
Pittsburgh on Sunday, retired six of the seven batters he faced. It
was just the third time this season he pitched two innings.

Floyd gave the Mets a 3-0 lead in the first with a three-run
homer. Jeff Duncan led off with a walk and Phillips hit a single
before Floyd launched his 16th homer into the right-field stands.

Abreu's two-run single in the first cut it to 3-2, but McEwing
hit a solo homer to make it 4-2 in the second.

Phillips' two-run homer in the sixth off Turk Wendell gave the
Mets an 8-4 lead after Thome's two-run shot in the fifth cut it to
6-4. Abreu hit an RBI single off Dan Wheeler in the seventh.

"We came out swinging the bats and the kids are contributing,"
Mets manager Art Howe said.<
^Notes: Mets RF Timo Perez left the game with a calf strain after
going 2-for-2. Raul Gonzalez replaced Perez and had an RBI single.
... McEwing's homer was his first since May 11, 2002. ... CF Duncan
robbed Marlon Byrd of a hit with a diving catch to end the fourth
and SS Jose Reyes made an outstanding play on a grounder by Byrd to
end the sixth. ... Phillips extended his hitting streak to nine
games. ... The Phillies fell to 22-6 in games in which they score
in the first inning.