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Eighth inning is Takahashi's to lose

Jerry Manuel may have finally found his eighth-inning man in Hisanori Takahashi.

Takahashi pitched a 1-2-3 eighth against the Rockies on Tuesday night. He earned praise from Manuel and got bumped from his scheduled start on Saturday against the Phillies in the process.

Takahashi retired Melvin Mora on a ground out to start the eighth. He was aided by Fernando Martinez’s great catch on a Dexter Fowler liner to left and got Todd Helton to ground out to Ruben Tejada to end the inning. Takahashi was originally scheduled to start on Saturday against the Phillies, but that start is likely to go to Pat Misch, who was pulled after throwing 55 pitches during his Tuesday start for Triple-AAA Buffalo.

Manuel said after the Mets’ 1-0 win that he felt comfortable giving the ball to the Japanese lefty in the eighth on Wednesday.

“In all the situations that we’ve brought him in out of the pen he’s been outstanding and unflappable,” Manuel said.

Takahashi said through a translator that he preferred to be a starting pitcher – his role in ten years as a pro in Japan – but he would embrace the role of the set-up man to closer Francisco Rodriguez.

FRENCH TWIST: The Star-Ledger reported that Jeff Francoeur’s agent said the right fielder is open to being dealt to a place where he can play everyday.

“We want to play every day,” Francoeur’s agent Molly Fletcher said told the newspaper on Tuesday. “We prefer to play in New York. But if we’re not going to play every day in New York, we absolutely welcome the opportunity to play every day somewhere else.”

The normally affable Francoeur didn’t want to talk about his agent’s comments when approached after the game.

“I didn’t talk to them today so I don’t know what was said,” he said. “I’m pretty sure they probably didn’t request a trade like was said but I’m not going to sit here and talk about that stuff anymore because there’s really nothing left to talk about."

Francoeur, who lost his starting job when Carlos Beltranreturned on July 15, will start on Wednesday against Colorado left-hander Jeff Francis.

CARLOS, JERRY CHAT: Manuel and Beltran chatted on Tuesday about Manuel’s decision to give the center fielder periodic days off.

Beltran pinch-hit for Mike Pelfrey in the bottom of the seventh inning and was intentionally walked by Ubaldo Jimenez. He will play on Wednesday. Beltran is hitting just .195 since his July 15 return.

"Basically, seeing where he was mentally, emotionally. Letting him know I want to try to keep him as fresh as possible," Manuel said after the game.

FOXSPORTS.com reported Tuesday that Beltran on had cleared waivers. If a team had put a claim on him, the Mets could have dumped the center fielder and the $18.5 million he’s owed next season.

STANDING PAT?: All signs point to Takahashi remaining in the bullpen and Misch taking the start Saturday against the Phillies, but Manuel stopped short of confirming those plans after the game.

A team official acknowledged it would be difficult to add Sean Greenand Misch to the roster later this week. Green had a scoreless relief outing Tuesday for Buffalo and is due to complete a month-long rehab assignment within days. He does have a minor-league option remaining and could be held in the minors until rosters expand Sept. 1 if need be.

Misch was pulled after throwing 55 pitches in his start for Triple-A Buffalo. Manuel said that he would “dip into the minors” or start Raul Valdes if Takahashi was unavailable on Saturday.

K-ROD ROLLS: Francisco Rodriguez threw a perfect ninth for his 25thsave as the Mets won a 1-0 game for the third time this season. He hasn’t allowed a run in his last eight appearances (9 1/3 innings). He also hasn’t allowed a hit since July 28 against the Cardinals. Manuel admired his closer’s fearlessness after the game.

“When he gets behind there’s no fear or anxiety,” the manager said. “He’s going to throw the pitch he wants to throw.”

NOT WRIGHT: David Wright went 0-for-3 with an intentional walk and is just 2-for-29 in his last seven games.

SHUTOUT CITI: The Mets recorded their league-leading 16th shutout and 13th at home, which is also the highest total in the majors.