Series: Game 3 of 3

Florida won 2-1

Game 1: Friday, September 26
NY Mets3Final
Game 2: Saturday, September 27
NY Mets9Final
Game 3: Sunday, September 28
NY Mets0Final

Mets 0

(66-95, 32-49 away)

Marlins 4

(91-71, 53-28 home)

    1:35 PM ET, September 28, 2003

    Sun Life Stadium, Miami, Florida 

    123456789 R H E
    NYM 000000000 0 4 0
    FLA 10300000 - 4 7 1

    W: D. Willis (14-6)

    L: J. Griffiths (1-4)

    Third baseman will pinch hit in playoffs

    MIAMI (AP) -- The Florida Marlins are glad to have Mike Lowell back for the start of the playoffs, even if it's only as a pinch hitter.

    Lowell returned to the lineup Sunday after missing four weeks with a broken left hand, and he went 1-for-4 to help Florida beat the New York Mets 4-0.

    The All-Star third baseman doubled and scored a run. But when the Marlins begin their best-of-5 playoff series Tuesday at San Francisco, Lowell will be on the bench, manager Jack McKeon said.

    "I don't think it would be fair to Mike or the other 24 guys to stick Mike out there when he wasn't totally ready to play," McKeon said. "He's still a little rusty, but he's coming along quickly."

    Lowell said he would have understood McKeon's reasoning even if he had hit two home runs Sunday.

    "I'm not at 100 percent," he said. "But I'm good enough to be able to contribute, I think."

    Rookie Dontrelle Willis (14-6), scheduled to pitch Game 4 against the Giants, tuned up by limiting the Mets to three hits over five innings. He won his final three decisions.

    "It was good to be able to throw strikes and have some momentum going into the playoffs," he said.

    The victory gave the Marlins a 91-71 record, which is exactly what team president David Samson predicted on opening day. After the game, Samson was sitting at McKeon's desk, smoking one of the manager's cigars.

    "They knew they had to hit 91 on the nose, and boy did they ever do it," Samson said as a grinning McKeon stood in the background.

    Florida's Braden Looper, whose recent struggles cost him the closer's job this week, pitched a scoreless ninth for the second game in a row, completing a four-hitter.

    The injury-plagued Mets finished last in the NL East for the second straight season. New York's 66-95 record was its worst since going 59-103 in 1993.

    "This has been a miserable year," Al Leiter said. "Coming out of spring training, we thought we'd do some good things, but it didn't happen."

    The Mets' Jay Bell went 0-for-4 in his final game. He's retiring after a 20-year professional career, including 15 in the majors.

    "It feels great to take the uniform off," said Bell, whose parents drove down from Tampa to attend the game. "It has been a great 20 years. It has been more than I could ever ask."

    Mike Glavine, brother of Mets left-hander Tom Glavine, singled in the ninth for his first major league hit.

    "That was probably the highlight of the day," manager Art Howe said.

    Jeremy Griffiths (1-4) allowed all four runs and seven hits in four innings. He went 0-3 with a 9.95 ERA in his final three starts.

    Florida, which clinched the NL wild card Friday, went ahead on Derrek Lee's RBI single in the first. Todd Hollandsworth singled home Lowell in the third and scored on Alex Gonzalez's 18th home run.

    Lowell flied out in the first inning, then hit a broken-bat double in the third that landed on the foul line. He also fouled out and struck out, but he made a nice defensive play to throw out Vance Wilson.

    "I wasn't expecting to hit three home runs today," Lowell said. "I thought I accomplished what I wanted to."

    If and when Lowell rejoins the lineup, left fielder Jeff Conine will likely go to the bench, with rookie Miguel Cabrera moving from third base to left field.

    "I don't want it to become a problem or distraction," Lowell said. "I think it's a good problem. If all three of us feel good, that's a good thing for the team."

    Game notes

    Marlins CF Juan Pierre played in all 162 games and scored his 100th run Sunday. Teammate Luis Castillo, who didn't play, finished with 99. ... Pierre stole his major league-leading 65th base in the second inning. ... The Mets had an NL-high 506 games started by rookies. ... Ty Wigginton set Mets rookie records for hits (146), extra-base hits (53) and doubles (36).

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press