Beltran slams Mets past Fins

August 29, 2008 7:35:45 PM PDT
Carlos Beltran came through with the big hit that had eluded the New York Mets all night.Beltran hit a grand slam with two outs in the ninth inning off Kevin Gregg, and New York's bullpen held on for a 5-4 win over the Florida Marlins on Friday night.

Before Beltran's homer, the Mets were 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position. Trailing 2-1, they left the bases loaded in the seventh and stranded two in the eighth.

Gregg (6-8) retired the first two batters in the ninth, and New York was down to its final strike when Luis Castillo singled on a 1-2 pitch. David Wright also singled, Carlos Delgado was hit by a pitch and Beltran pulled the first pitch over the right-field wall.

Luis Ayala earned his third save despite giving up four hits in the ninth, including an RBI single by pinch-hitter Mike Jacobs and a run-scoring double by Jorge Cantu. Wes Helms grounded out with runners at second and third to end the game.

Joe Smith (2-3) pitched a scoreless eighth. Beltran's homer was his 20th, and he drove in all five New York runs.

The grand slam left the third-place Marlins reeling at the start of a big weekend series. They've been fading in the NL East and fell seven games behind the Mets, who increased their lead over second-place Philadelphia to two games.

Rookie Chris Volstad, facing the Mets for the first time, limited them to five hits and one run in 6 1-3 innings. New York's Oliver Perez was nearly as good - he allowed the Marlins three hits and two runs, one earned, in six innings.

The Mets' frustrations began in the first, when Florida third baseman Helms made a spectacular catch to end a threat. With two on and two out, he retreated and crossed the left-field foul line to make a backhanded catch of a foul pop just before he hit the waist-high retaining wall. Helms tumbled over the wall headfirst and landed in the Mets' bullpen but held onto the ball.

Jose Reyes and Castillo reached on consecutive infield hits to start the inning, and Beltran's sacrifice fly scored a run.

Florida's Josh Willingham hit his 10th homer leading off the second inning for a 1-all tie.

The Marlins scored without a hit in the third to take a 2-1 lead. Volstad reached on an error by shortstop Reyes. A walk and a fielder's choice sent Volstad to third, and he scored on a sacrifice fly by Cantu.