<
>

Lowell tied major-league lead with 14 HRs

MIAMI (AP) -- Mike Lowell and Braden Looper shared many great
moments together as teammates. They had another on Saturday, one
that only Lowell will recall fondly.

Lowell homered off Looper, Florida's former closer, in the 10th
inning to give the Marlins a 3-2 victory over the New York Mets.
The homer, Lowell's 14th, tied him for the major league lead and
helped Florida (29-20) move a season-best nine games over .500.

Looper (0-1) was making his first appearance in his former home
park since signing with the Mets in the offseason. He worked out of
a jam in the ninth, but couldn't retire Lowell in the 10th, giving
up a homer that easily cleared the left-field wall.

"It's kind of what you dream about," said Lowell, who was
Looper's teammate for five seasons. "Those are the situations you
put yourself in when you play Wiffle ball in the backyard."

Looper, who called the fastball offering to Lowell
"boneheaded," found it anything but dreamy.

"There's not much of a worse feeling than to give up a walkoff
home run," Looper said. "It doesn't get much worse than that. ...
I just put it in as bad a spot as I could have put it, and he just
crushed it."

Justin Wayne (3-1), the fourth Florida pitcher, worked a perfect
10th to cap a one-hit, three-inning showing by the bullpen, which
helped the NL East-leading Marlins take a two-game lead over
Philadelphia.

Ty Wigginton homered for the Mets, who fell to 23-25 and missed
a chance to return to .500.

"We didn't get the big hits," Mets manager Art Howe said.
"The pitching staff gave us the opportunity to get it done. ...
We're not getting hits. Guys are battling. We're just not hitting
the holes."

Florida missed two late opportunities, stranding runners on the
corners in the eighth and another in scoring position in the ninth.
But in the 10th, Lowell came through off Looper, who saved 28 games
for the Marlins last year.

Marlins starter Carl Pavano gave up two runs and six hits in
seven innings, striking out five and walking three. The Mets left
six runners on base -- three in scoring position -- over the fifth,
sixth and seventh innings against Pavano, who repeatedly fought his
way out of trouble.

"We've been doing this all year," Pavano said. "We battled
hard. We went in there against a tough closer in the 10th inning
and one of our best hitters put the ball out of the park. Mikey
took a great swing."

Danny Garcia struck out with runners on first and second, ending
the fifth. Vance Wilson grounded into a 6-4-3 double play with the
bases loaded and one out in the sixth, and Garcia grounded out to
shortstop in the seventh, wasting Kaz Matsui's two-out triple.

Seo, who had a 5.65 ERA over his previous three starts, overcame
a shaky first inning. He allowed two runs, five hits and five walks
in six innings.

"The start of the game was a bit of struggle, but as the game
went along I felt more comfortable," Seo said.

Seo walked Florida's first three hitters in the opening inning,
yet the Marlins managed to push across only one run. Lenny Harris,
who batted fourth because Miguel Cabrera was held out of the
starting lineup, grounded into a double play and Jeff Conine hit an
inning-ending flyout.

The Mets tied it in the second on Wigginton's fifth homer, and
took a 2-1 lead in the fourth after a great hustle play by right
fielder Karim Garcia.

Danny Garcia led off with a single, stole second and went to
third on Shane Spencer's groundout. With two out, Karim Garcia hit
a grounder to the right of first base and beat Hee Seop Choi's
throw to Pavano covering the bag -- allowing Danny Garcia to score.

Another leadoff walk issued by Seo, this time to Conine, helped
the Marlins tie it in the fourth. Conine scored three batters later
on a hard single to left by Gonzalez.

Game notes
Seo has walked 19 and struck out 15 in 41 2-3 innings. ...
Harris hadn't started a game batting fourth since May 1999 and he
may not get the chance again soon. He stranded runners in scoring
position in each of his three at-bats. ... Cabrera got the day off
because of tightness in his left leg. He's expected to return to
the lineup Sunday. ... Piazza's hitting streak, which was the
longest by a Met this season, ended at 13 games. ... Mets CF Mike
Cameron, who entered the game third in the NL with 51 strikeouts,
fanned twice more. He did single in the ninth, raising his average
to .197. ... The Marlins had a runner in every inning against Seo,
but LHP John Franco set them down in order in the seventh. ... The
Mets turned four double plays, three of them 4-6-3.