Willie rolls dice on Takatsu and loses

Willie Randolph doesn't tend to be your typical dice-roller as a manager, which made it all the more odd when Shingo Takatsu was summoned from the bullpen, making his Mets debut with the game – and arguably, the team's Wild Card chances – teetering on the line.

And when Takatsu left a fat 2-1 fastball over the heart of the plate to Miguel Cabrera, it drove in not only three Florida runners, it also drove a stake into the heart of the Mets' postseason chances.

With Randolph hoping to glean "a little funk" from the 36-year-old righthander's drop-down pitching motion, he instead was treated to a carousel of Marlins teal whirling around the bases.

Cabrera's three-run double over Cliff Floyd's head in the seventh inning provided all the ammunition that the Marlins would need to present Jack McKeon with his 1,000th career victory, a 5-4 win over the Mets at Dolphins Stadium.

More importantly for the Mets, it was their sixth loss in seven games, bloating New York's deficit in the Wild Card chase to 3-1/2 games with 27 left to play.

This is a make-or-break stretch for the Mets, who play a Sunday matinee in Miami before heading to Atlanta for three games and St. Louis for a four-game extended weekend series; so far, the NL East's worst road club is 0-2 on this most recent journey.

Reyes on the run: Jose Reyes extended his lead on the NL's stolen base charts with his 48th steal in the fifth inning, running on Florida's Paul Lo Duca.

It came with a price, however; Reyes jammed fingers on his right hand sliding into third base and needed attention on the field, though he told reporters later that he was "fine." Reyes is batting .277 with six home runs, 55 RBI this season, legging out 19 doubles and an NL-high 15 triples.

Welcome back: Doug Mientkiewicz started at first base Saturday night, giving a breather to Mike Jacobs, who has struggled since the four-game surge to open his major league career.

Since the Mets left Arizona, where Jacobs pumped three home runs in two games, the 24-year-old is 1-for-16 (.062).

Meanwhile, righthander Danny Graves is expected to be promoted back to the Mets on Monday. Graves, 32, has allowed 12 runs on 14 hits in five innings at Triple-A Norfolk; his services won't be required as the Tides pursue the Governor's Cup in the International League playoffs.

Minor League Report

TRIPLE-A NORFOLK: Anderson Hernandez and Chris Basak contributed sacrifice flies in the ninth inning as Norfolk defeated Richmond Saturday, 2-1. Manny Aybar (3-0) picked up the win in relief, with Royce Ring nailing down his second save. Neal Musser started for Norfolk and allowed five hits in six shutout innings, striking out six.

DOUBLE-A BINGHAMTON: Rafael Lopez (2-10) allowed four runs and nine hits in four innings as Binghamton fell to New Britain Saturday, 7-4. Wayne Lydon had two RBI and David Bacani added three hits, a run scored and an RBI for the B-Mets.

SINGLE-A ST. LUCIE: Greg Ramirez (4-5) allowed three runs, including a home run, in 2-1/3 innings of work as St. Lucie fell at Vero Beach Saturday, 6-3. Gaby Hernandez started for the Mets and shut out the Dodgers on three hits over three innings; Blake Whealy had two hits and two RBI.

SINGLE-A HAGERSTOWN: Orlando Rengel (2-5) was roughed up for five runs (three earned) and eight hits in 5.1 innings as the Suns fell to Lexington Saturday, 9-2. Joseph Williams and Jason Weintraub also allowed two runs each in relief.

SINGLE-A BROOKLYN: The Cyclones scored two runs in the first inning on singles by Caleb Stewart and Jonel Pacheco, then made it hold up as they won at Hudson Valley Saturday, 2-1. Jeff Landing (6-6) earned the win with five innings of one-run, six-hit ball, striking out seven, while Travis Hope picked up his second save by icing the Renegades on three hits over the final four innings.


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