Catch-ing Up: Pudge Star As Fish Win 3-2

Ivan Rodriguez is letting the entire National League know that he means business. The catcher hit a solo home run, picked a key runner off first base, and drove in the winning run in the ninth as the Marlins defeated the Mets 3-2 inside Pro Player Stadium on Wednesday night.

Mike Stanton (0-1) allowed Juan Pierre and Luis Castillo to reach base before surrendering a game-winning base hit to Ivan Rodriguez in the bottom of the ninth inning.

"I'm going to be aggressive, man," said Rodriguez to the Associated Press. He finished 2-for-3 Wednesday night with two more walks after drawing five in Tuesday's contest. "The other day they didn't want to take a chance, but I was still aggressive. They throw me a pitch to hit, I'm going to swing."

With one out in the top of the fifth, Jeromy Burnitz got the Mets on the board first by depositing his first home run of the 2003 season well over the right field wall. The outfielder -- who went 1-for-4 -- is now hitting .267 on the season.

Brandon Looper (1-0) worked the top of the ninth inning to pick up the win.

The Mets (4-4) had a another opportunity in the fifth with the heart of their lineup due up. Roberto Alomar lead off with a triple to right center, but that was as far as he got. Both Cliff Floyd and Mike Piazza grounded out before Mo Vaughn struck out to end the inning.

Marlins' starter A.J. Burnett, who was under a pitch count, came off the DL to make his first start of the year and had excellent stuff from the beginning. He worked seven strong innings allowing just five hits, two runs, two walks, and fanned four.

"A.J. was amazing," said Torborg to the Associated Press. "He was sharp and very economical with his pitches. He was loose and easy. That's a boost for us. What an outing, his first time out."

Back-to-back singles by Todd Hollandsworth and Alex Gonzalez to start off the bottom of the fifth put runners at first and third with nobody out. Steve Trachsel then picked off Gonzalez while preventing the run from scoring. After walking Burnett, he got Juan Pierre to pop out and Luis Castillo to groundout harmlessly to third as the Mets escaped a jam.

Ivan Rodriguez lead off the bottom of the sixth and drove a 2-2 pitch from Steve Trachsel over the left field wall for his third homer of the season and it knotted the score at one. The former All-Star catcher is now hitting .407 through the first nine games of the year.

Shortstop Rey Sanchez got the lead back for the Mets in the top of the seventh by driving home Ty Wigginton, who was hit by a pitch, with a hard line-drive base hit that dropped in front of centerfielder Juan Pierre. The Marlins (3-6) stormed right back though, getting a hit by Luis Castillo that tied the game at two.

Steve Trachsel pitched six innings and allowed six hits, one run, and three walks while striking out four. The only blemish was the home run he yielded to catcher Ivan Rodriguez in the sixth.

Mo Vaughn got hit by a pitch to start the Mets half of the ninth and was pinch run for by Joe McEwing. He wasn't there for long as Ivan Rodriguez picked him off and defined the reason why he has won ten Gold Gloves.

Ivan Rodriguez has gotten on base in nine of his ten plate appearances against the Mets so far... Rodriguez is 6-for-10 against Mike Stanton... Roger Cedeno went 0-for-4 and is htting .154 on the season... Floyd, Piazza, Vaughn combined to leave five men on base... Glavine (2-0) opposes Josh Beckett (1-0) in the final game of the series on Thursday...

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