Mike Piazza holds up the ball after tagging out Jeff Conine at the plate to save a run in the eighth on Cliff Floyd's 14th outfield assist. (Bill Kostroun/AP)
Jacobs lifts Mets over Marlins in 12
After intentional walk to Piazza, rookie's RBI single wins it
By Marty Noble / MLB.com
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NEW YORK -- To a man unaccustomed to baseball-free Octobers, the very notion of finding reward in spoiling another team's September is foreign. In a real sense, Willie Randolph has been spoiled by his many successes, so he finds no reward in being a spoiler.
The Mets manager said as much Tuesday afternoon and even denigrated the act. "Spoiling is for losers," he said.
His team seemed to take the role, though, if not the concept. Within hours of Randolph's expression of disdain, the Mets overcame a run at a no-hitter by A.J. Burnett and, eventually, the Marlins, too. Their paucity of hits aside, they won and made it even more unlikely this Fish Story will have a happy ending.
Not that the Mets' season will end anymore happily now because of the 12-inning, 3-2 victory, but as David Wright said when it was all over, "It's better to win that it is to lose."
And at times -- particularly in the third week of September -- that seemingly self-evident thought bears repeating.
September had drained the Mets of hope long before Mike Jacobs found enough room between Carlos Delgado and first base to pull his game-winning single Tuesday night. But, regardless of the month, it was a last-pitch hit by a player unfamiliar with that kind of success in the big leagues.
"Anything good you do helps your confidence," Mike Piazza said.
Another self-evident truth.
It didn't matter to Jacobs or Piazza, Wright or Randolph that the Marlins were the victims, or that the final at-bat victory had put Florida three games behind Wild Card-leading Houston. Indeed, though losing hurt the Marlins more than winning helped the Mets, the Mets would have traded places.
"I'd prefer it was the other way around. That we were in it," Randolph said. "I'd rather be in it and lose one night."
But to want to be a spoiler? No, not for Randolph. To him, it's fingernails on the blackboard.
"It means you're out of it," he said. "I don't want my players talking satisfaction from it. Feel good that we won, just like we did all year. Be happy for what we did."
What the Mets had done was this: Come from behind to win for the 32nd time this season, win in extra innings for the seventh time in 13 tries, win in their final at-bat for the 14th time, and on a game's final pitch for the seventh time.
And not to be overlooked, they have won consecutive games for the first time since Aug. 25 and 26.
They accomplished all that when Jacobs singled with two out against Brian Moehler to score Wright from second base. Moehler (6-10) had retired the first two batters in the 12th, but Wright doubled and, after Piazza was walked intentionally, Jacobs made a winning pitcher of Aaron Heilman (5-3) with the Mets' fourth hit of the game.
They hadn't come particularly close to a hit through six innings. Piazza made solid contact in the second and fifth innings, lining out and flying out to right. Odd that it was Piazza who, after being retired by Burnett for the third time Tuesday, had merely four hits in 32 career at-bats against the Marlins starter. The .125 average is the lowest average Piazza has against any pitcher he has faced at least 25 times.
Victor Diaz led off the seventh with a soft, bloop double over Delgado's head. The Mets' second hit, a rocket single off the right-field wall by Cliff Floyd one batter later, tied the score. The Mets had scored in the fourth on an error, a stolen base by Jose Reyes and a wild pitch.
Burnett allowed two hits and one walk, while striking out nine.
The Marlins had scored their two runs against Kris Benson in the second inning when Paul Lo Duca hit his sixth home run with two outs, and in the seventh, when Delgado led off with his 32nd home run. The home runs were the eighth and ninth Benson has allowed in his last five starts (32 innings). He had allowed 14 in his first 128 2/3 innings.
Benson now has made six starts -- four losses and a no decision -- since his last victory on Aug. 16. He allowed four hits and four walks in seven innings.
With Benson gone, the Marlins nearly scored against Victor Zambrano in the eighth, but Floyd made another brilliant throw to cut down Jeff Conine at the plate for the third out, taking Juan Encarnacion's base hit in left-center and producing his 14th assist. Floyd leads the National League in outfield assists.
His throw, remarkably accurate, arrived an instant before Conine, who essentially slid into the tag, knocked Piazza over but not out.
September has been a rough one, but I take solice that we are still playing hard. Basically for me, my department is trying to finish off the year strong in sales and get things in gear for next season.
Team W L Pct GB
Braves 86 65 .570 -
Phillies 80 71 .530 6
Marlins 79 72 .523 7
Nationals 77 74 .510 9
Mets 74 76 .493 11 ½
Mets 7 ½