FLUSHING, New York (Ticker) --
's hitless innings streak with a home run in the ninth inning. But Benitez again got the last laugh against his former team.
Greeted by a steady stream of jeers at Shea Stadium for the second straight day, Benitez shrugged off Piazza's second homer of the game and retired the next three batters to preserve the
' 7-6 victory over the
New York Mets
"They (the fans) were ready to hang him here after he had one bad season," Marlins manager Jack McKeon said. "I'm glad they didn't forgive him. Now he's with us and we couldn't be happier."
The win was the 11th for the Marlins in their last 13 meetings with the Mets, dating to last June 26 and including a 5-1 mark this season. Benitez, who was traded by the Mets last July, has saved four of those wins.
He entered this game with a career-high 13 consecutive hitless innings with opposing hitters going 0-for-40 in that stretch and had not allowed an earned run since Opening Day, a span of 30 innings. Piazza, his former catcher with the Mets, ended those streaks with one swing of the bat, launching a first-pitch fastball over the right field wall to pull the Mets within 7-6.
"I thought he would try to get ahead of me in the count with his fastball and he got one over the plate and I ran into it," Piazza said. "When a guy throws a 96-97 mile an hour fastball you have to roll the dice that it's coming."
With the crowd of 24,803 in a frenzy, Benitez kept his composure and got a break when
lined a fastball right to left fielder
for the first out of the inning. Benitez then retired
, who had three singles and a walk, on a grounder to second and struck out
to end the game for his 22nd save in 23 opportunities.
"After Piazza hit the home run I was just thinking of the next batter," Benitez said. "That's all you can do. I wasn't even thinking about my streak (of hitless innings). Just forget about it and come back to the next batter."
(4-2) pitched 1 1/3 hitless innings to earn the win. The lefthander struck out pinch-hitter
with the bases loaded in the seventh inning before retiring all three batters he faced in the eighth.
Meanwhile, the Marlins erased a 5-2 deficit, blitzing five Mets relievers for five runs in the last three innings.
The big blow came from pinch-hitter
, who delivered a game-tying three-run homer in the seventh inning off
With runners on first and third and one out, McKeon sent
, baseball's all-time leading pinch-hitter, to bat for the pitcher. Mets manager
countered by bringing in the lefthanded Stanton. McKeon promptly replaced Harris with Easley, who had just six hits in 37 at-bats as a pinch hitter with one home run.
But Easley made McKeon look like a genius, pulling a 3-1 pitch by Stanton over the left field wall to tie the game at 5-5.
"It was a cutter and I hit it well," Easley said. "I got the barrel of the bat on it. I knew it had a good chance to go out.
"I got to make a better pitch there on 3-1," Stanton said. "It got too much of the plate."
The Marlins then followed with three hits in the eighth inning off
(5-2), the last a two-out, RBI single by
to snap the tie.
Hee Seop Choi
slid into the plate barely before the outstretched tag of catcher
on a one-bounce throw from Spencer in right field.
"I was looking for a breaking ball and I took it to the opposite field," said Gonzalez, who returned from a two-game suspension. "I didn't see the play at the plate but I knew it would be close."
ended an 0-for-12 slump with a two-out RBI double in the ninth inning off
, increasing Florida's lead to 7-5.
Piazza hit his first homer of the game in the fifth inning, tying the game at 2-2. That tied him with Hall of Famer and Mets broadcaster
for 57th-place on the all-time home run list with 369. He passed Kiner and moved into a tie with
for 56th with his second homer of the game.
"It's great to have individual achievements, but this was just such a disappointing loss," said Piazza, who surpassed
and moved into second place on the franchise list with 193 home runs. "All in all, our bullpen has done a great job. We just have to try and recover from this."