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Livan tagged for eight runs in two-plus innings

NEW YORK (AP) -- This one should have been simple for the New York Mets, but few things ever are.

The Mets used home runs by Ramon Castro, Jose Reyes and David Wright to build an eight-run lead Saturday night against the Washington Nationals. With Pedro Martinez pitching, it seemed a cinch win.

Instead, the New York bullpen blew the lead, allowing six runs in the seventh and two more with two outs in the ninth, costing Martinez his first win in a month. New York needed a two-out pinch single by Chris Woodward in the bottom of the 10th for a 9-8 victory.

Manager Willie Randolph pulled Martinez after six innings and had no regrets, even after the bullpen meltdown.

"I don't think I'd do anything different," Randolph said. "I just thought it was the right thing to do. I just felt comfortable at that point in time with an eight-run lead.

"We made it interesting, didn't we?" he said.

Martinez defended Randolph's decision.

"Willie's decision was correct," he said. "It will always be the correct decision. He who has the power will always be correct. Don't ever forget that."

Washington's comeback was encouraging to Nationals manager Frank Robinson, whose team has been struggling on offense. When his team fell behind, he pulled several regulars and got big hits from reserves Jamey Carroll and Ryan Church.

"You can't have it both ways," Robinson said. "The people we had in there at the end did a terrific job. The guys battled back."

Carroll thought there were positives in the loss, the fourth in the last five games for the Nationals.

"We played hard right to the end," he said. "To fight back like that gives you a lot of confidence."

Woodward delivered the winning hit after reliever Gary Majewski
(2-3) walked Gerald Williams with one out and Reyes with two outs. Woodward hit for winning pitcher Roberto Hernandez (6-5) and singled up the middle, scoring Williams from second.

Brian Schneider drove in four runs as the Nationals rallied against the New York bullpen. His two-run, two-out double in the ninth against Mets closer Braden Looper capped Washington's comeback and cost Martinez his first win in almost a month.

Martinez left after six innings of shutout ball, but the Mets bullpen gave it all back.

Danny Graves started the seventh with a walk to Schneider. After an infield out, Reyes threw low on Cristian Guzman's grounder for an error, giving Washington runners at first and third.
Pinch-hitter Carlos Baerga doubled for one run and Graves walked Brad Wilkerson. Carroll's single made it 8-2 and finished Graves.

Dae-Sung Koo relieved and struck out Nick Johnson, but Church followed with a two-run single, making it 8-4. Aaron Heilman
relieved and his first pitch hit Preston Wilson, loading the bases. Schneider followed with a two-run single, making it 8-6.

Heilman finally got the third out and sailed through a 1-2-3 eighth. Looper came on in the ninth, looking for his 25th save. He retired the first two batters but gave up singles to Church and Wilson before Schneider's double tied it at 8.

Martinez took a no-hitter into the eighth inning of his last start at Los Angeles but wound up losing 2-1. He has not won since July 23, but this one seemed a cinch.

Wright singled with one out in the second and Marlon Anderson walked. Castro, filling in for injured Mike Piazza, followed with his fifth home run of the season, connecting on an 0-2 pitch from Livan Hernandez.

Victor Diaz singled, Martinez sacrificed and Reyes hit the next pitch into the Mets bullpen for his fourth homer of the season and first since April 19.

The five-run inning was a dramatic reversal for the Mets, who had scored just one run in the previous two games.

New York padded its lead in the third, finishing Hernandez.

Carlos Beltran and Cliff Floyd opened with singles and Wright followed with his 18th homer on a 2-0 pitch. The three RBI gave Wright the team lead with 78.

Game notes
The Mets broadcast a DiamondVision message from injured right fielder Mike Cameron, thanking fans for their get-well wishes. Cameron broke both cheekbones and his nose in an Aug. 11 collision with Beltran. ... Castro's home run traveled an estimated 410 feet and Reyes' homer, his fifth hit in his last six at-bats, was estimated at 420 feet. ... Martinez threw just 78 pitches, 57 for strikes. ... The Mets drew a crowd of 51,785 for Hispanic Night, their eighth sellout of the season.