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Benito's Blast Fuels Reds' Rally

Benito Santiago was thinking sacrifice fly and hit a grand slam. John Franco was second-guessing himself for giving Santiago the chance.

"I was just trying to hit a fly ball to the outfield," Santiago said. "I was trying for one and I got four."

Santiago hit a go-ahead slam off Armando Benitez as the Cincinnati Reds rallied with a six-run eighth inning Wednesday to beat the New York Mets 11-8.

New York, just 1-5 in September, had a three-run lead when when Chris Stynes and Ken Griffey Jr. hit consecutive one-out singles off Turk Wendell, who relieved Dennis Cook at the start of the eighth.

John Franco (5-4) came in and gave up RBI singles to Sean Casey and Dmitri Young, then walked Alex Ochoa, loading the bases.

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  • "It's a game we should have won that we let go," Franco said. "If I wuld have made my pitches, maybe things would have turned out different. When I don't hit my spots, good hitters are going to take advantage of it."

    Santiago homered to left on Benitez' first pitch, his fifth homer of the season and seventh career slam the first since Aug. 11, 1997, at Detroit.

    "I got a good, solid swing on the ball," said Santiago, who went 2-for-5 with five RBIs.

    Reds manager Jack McKeon said he never considered using a left-handed pinch hitter for Santiago after New York brought in the right-handed Benitez.

    "If you look down our roster, we didn't have much left, and I would rather stay with Benny," McKeon said. "All good relievers have bad days. He made a mistake and got one up, and Benny took advantage."

    Benitez blew a save for the fifth time in 42 chances this year.

    "When I gave him the ball I said, 'Pick me up,' " Franco said. "The guy's been automatic all year. But he's a human being, and we all make mistakes."

    John Riedling (2-1), the fifth of six Cincinnati pitchers, allowed one hit and walked one in one inning, and Danny Graves pitched a perfect ninth for his 25th save in 30 chances.

    Griffey hit his 38th homer of the season, and Casey added his 12th. Todd Pratt and Matt Franco homered for the Mets, who began the day one game behind Atlanta in the NL East.

    Mets starter Bobby J. Jones allowed five runs and six hits in two innings, and Bobby M. Jones followed with four innings of shutout relief.

    "I didn't have good stuff at all today," Bobby J. Jones said. "There are times during the season when you don't; there are just those kinds of days."

    It was the first time in Mets history that pitchers with the same first and last names followed each other, although Bob L. Miller and Bob G. Miller pitched in the same game five times in 1962.

    Reds starter Rob Bell, who pitched a career-high eight innings Friday against Montreal, lasted just 41 pitches and 1 1-3 innings. He gave up five runs and two hits in 1 1-3 innings.

    New York, which outhit the Reds 13-6, went ahead in the first on Matt Franco's three-run homer, his first home run since July 16, 1999, at Tampa Bay.

    Griffey's home run pulled the Reds within a ruin the bottom half, but the Mets took a 5-2 lead in the second on Pratt's homer and Lenny Harris' RBI single.

    Santiago hit an RBI double in the bottom half and Casey tied it 5-all with a two-run homer in the third.

    New York took a 7-4 lead in the fourth against Keith Glauber on RBI grounder's by Mike Bordick and Derek Bell, who reached on an error by shortstop Chris Sexton. Mike Piazza hit into a run-scoring double play in the seventh.


  • The Mets have 24 homers in their past 21 games.
  • Scott Williamson is expected to come off the DL (lower back strain) on Friday and start for the Reds at Pittsburgh.
  • A wild pitch by Bell in the second raised the Reds' club record and major league leading total to 86.
  • Osvaldo Fernandez made his first relief appearance since 1996 when he pitched two-thirds of an inning for Cincinnati. He last pitched July 6 at St. Louis, went on the DL the next day with a sore elbow, then was activated Friday.

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