Weekend No Holiday For Mets

How's your Memorial Day weekend going? One would hope it's a better time than the New York Mets are having. <P> The Mets lost their third straight game and the second of this series with the Florida Marlins last night in dramatic fashion, as previously untouchable closer Braden Looper faltered in a return to South Florida.

Looper, a member of last season's World Champions, served up a solo homer to the dangerous Mike Lowell with one out in the tenth inning, setting off a celebration at home plate and sending the Mets back to their hotel rooms without a win in their weekend ledger.

Of their last three losses to their NL East competition – one to the Philadelphia Phillies at Shea Stadium Thursday, then two more in Miami this weekend – two of them have been by one run. The Mets have fallen two games below .500 at 23-25.

"We've been playing our tails off," manager Art Howe told reporters.

The losses haven't come in safe fashion, either. The two Mets players who can least afford to suffer a full-on collision did so in the first inning of Saturday's game, as Cliff Floyd hit center fielder Mike Cameron at full speed as they pursued a Jeff Conine fly ball to the gap in left-center field.

Floyd caught the ball, but the two players sprawled across the outfield grass and Cameron – who likened the impact to being hit by a truck or by former New York Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor, take your choice – eventually hovered over Floyd, who took his time getting to his feet.

Floyd left the game, but was smiling as he jogged off the field and was diagnosed with a contusion of his thigh, a great relief to a player who has spent far too much time on the disabled list in his career.

"I'm starting to wonder, what the heck? Why me?" Floyd told reporters. "I'm not living bad. It's not like I'm playing baseball by day and robbing people at night."

Like Floyd, Cameron could ill afford another injury, so it was greatly to his benefit that he went low into the collision. His shoulder felt some deadness after the hit, but Cameron was able to eventually shrug the impact off and remained the game.

Already struggling at the plate and dropped to eighth in New York's order thanks in part to the sprained ligaments in his right pinky finger, Cameron – a former high school football safety back in La Grange, Ga. – couldn't recall ever taking a hit as hard as the ugly one he suffered in the outfield Saturday.

"He's too big to be running into," Cameron told reporters. "It was like he broke my collarbone."

IN THE MINORS: Matt Peterson, the Mets' No. 1 organizational pitching prospect at the moment, pitched well again Saturday for the Binghamton (AA) Mets.

Peterson, who was mentioned by manager Art Howe last week as someone the Mets were keeping their eyes on for a promotion later in the season, allowed one run and four hits over 5.0 innings to lower his ERA to 3.40. However, Peterson allowed a home run and issued five walks in the B-Mets' 3-1 win over the Trenton Thunder.

Down at Norfolk, Jake Joseph threw five scoreless innings of four-hit ball, striking out two.

In the same game, Mike Glavine stroked two hits, raising his average to an unsightly .153. All family honors aside, the Mets would have been far better served to give Craig Brazell a taste of the big leagues last September.

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