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Woodward smacks game-ending, two-run home run

NEW YORK (AP) -- Chris Woodward screamed as he ran toward first
base, urging the ball over the fence. The Mets utilityman had no
prior experience with a game-ending home run.

"I told it to get up," Woodward said. "I've never done it
before. I've got game-winning hits but I never got to run around
the bases."

Woodward's pinch-hit homer with one out in the 11th inning gave
New York a 3-1 victory over the San Diego Padres on Tuesday night.
He was greeted at home plate by a bouncing bunch of teammates who
patted him on the helmet in rhythm as he touched the plate.

"I've said from Day One how important he is to our ballclub,"
Mets manager Willie Randolph said. "He's been a gem, as far as I'm
concerned."

Woodward, who is hitting .314, homered on an 0-1 pitch off Chris
Hammond (5-1) after Mike Piazza, dropped to sixth in the order for
the first time since May 12, 1993, singled with one out. It was the
second game-ending homer this season for the Mets, who moved above
.500 at 47-46. Cliff Floyd hit the first on June 11.

Braden Looper (3-4) pitched two innings for the win.

The NL West-leading Padres dropped to 7-8 in July even though
stars Mark Loretta and Phil Nevin returned to the lineup.

"To have that team back out on the field we'll see how it goes
now," Padres starter Brian Lawrence said. "We're running out of
excuses now that these guys are back."

Cliff Floyd homered off the scoreboard in right-center in the
fifth, the Mets first baserunner against Lawrence and tying it
1-all. Khalil Greene connected off Kris Benson to open the top of
the fifth.

Then the Mets fell flat, leaving seven runners on base after the
sixth inning. They had runners on first and second with one out in
the seventh, eighth and ninth innings but failed to score against
the Padres' bullpen.

"When you leave guys out there it gets to be a little bit
frustrating," Randolph said, "but you can't think about that as
you go along."

In the seventh, Doug Mientkiewicz grounded into a double play,
and in the eighth Mike Cameron grounded into a fielder's choice and
Carlos Beltran flied out. In the ninth, pinch-hitter Jose Offerman
popped out and Miguel Cairo struck out.

Benson allowed five hits and two walks in seven innings,
striking out four. Three of the hits were by Greene.

"Tonight was the hottest game I ever pitched in as far as
sweating," Benson said of the extremely humid night. "You just
try to keep the game within reach so the guys can win."

Lawrence had lost three straight starts coming in, but he was
perfect for the first four innings and his only real mistake was
Floyd's 23rd homer.

He was pulled after giving up two hits in the seventh and made a
deliberate walk to the Padres dugout, scratching his head. Lawrence
gave up five hits, walked none and struck out four.

"Unfortunately, he's pitched well but we haven't done too much
for him," Greene said.

Center fielder Dave Roberts helped Lawrence with three catches
at the wall in left-center after long runs, each more dangerous
than the next. The first came in the third on Floyd's flyball,
which he caught just in front of the wall.

In the fourth, Roberts ran down consecutive drives to the same
spot in left-center, first running into the wall as he caught
Cameron's fly, then sliding into the wall to catch Beltran's fly.

When he came to the plate in the top of the fifth, Roberts was
booed by the Shea Stadium crowd of 37,945.

Game notes
Loretta and Nevin were a combined 1-for-8. ... The
Mets-Cubs game Aug. 7 will start at 8:05 p.m. to accommodate ESPN.
It was originally scheduled for a 1:10 p.m. start. ... Mets RHP
Steve Trachsel (back surgery) is to make a rehab start Wednesday
for Class-A St. Lucie. ... The Padres don't face an NL West team
until they host Colorado Aug. 26-28. ... Roberts, the Padres leader
in stolen bases with 16, was thrown out at second in the eighth
inning by Piazza, who has thrown out just eight of 66 runners.