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Valentin's slam saves Pelfrey debut, earns Mets split

NEW YORK (AP) -- The Mets certainly made things easy for Mike Pelfrey.

Jose Valentin hit a grand slam in the first inning and a bases-loaded triple in the second to spark New York's biggest offensive showing of the season, a 17-3 win over the Florida Marlins on Saturday that gave Pelfrey a victory in his major league debut.

"I hope he doesn't think it's going to be like this the rest of his career," catcher Paul Lo Duca said.

The outburst was surprising considering New York's performance in the first game of the doubleheader, a 3-2 loss in which the Mets twice left the bases loaded without scoring a run.

"Night and day," manager Willie Randolph said. "I like the second result much better."

Besides Valentin's career-high seven RBI, Cliff Floyd hit a two-run homer, drove in five runs and scored three more for the Mets in the second game. Carlos Beltran hit his 25th home run and scored four times for New York.

The 6-foot-7 Pelfrey (1-0), the ninth pick in last year's amateur draft, struggled with his control throughout his much-anticipated debut. He was activated from Double-A Binghamton on Friday.

"I was a little nervous at first and I kind of felt too good," said Pelfrey, whose parents, siblings and girlfriend were all in attendance. "I was a little erratic at first. In the fourth and fifth innings I kind of calmed my nerves and kind of just started pitching. Just kind of trusted my stuff, tried to throw strikes."

Of the 104 pitches he threw in five innings of work, 46 were balls. He gave up two earned runs and five hits, walked four, struck out three, threw a wild pitch and hit a batter.

"He obviously was rushing a lot and overthrowing a lot, all of the things that young pitchers do," Randolph said. "He settled down a little bit. We were able to get him through. All of the runs obviously helped."

Certainly enough to get the 22-year-old out of Wichita State the win. The Shea Stadium crowd gave him a nice ovation after he retired the Marlins in order in the fifth and 286-game winner Tom Glavine was one of the first to congratulate him when he reached the dugout.

"He's got a great arm," Marlins manager Joe Girardi said. "He's just a kid. This time last year he was probably signing. It was pretty impressive."

Pelfrey's time with the Mets may be short-lived. Randolph said he and general manager Omar Minaya would sit down to talk about whether to keep Pelfrey with the team or send him back down to the minors. A decision is expected within the next day or so.

Valentin helped the Mets to an early 5-0 lead with a first-inning grand slam, punctuating his drive to right by pumping his fist as he rounded first base. He came up with the bases loaded again in the second against Florida starter Ricky Nolasco (6-6). This time, Valentin tripled off the right-field wall, putting the
Mets firmly in control, 9-2.

"I was hoping he would hit for the cycle," Randolph said. "He got a couple of the tough ones out of the way early."

The Mets added two runs in the fourth and five in the fifth to clinch the victory. Beltran hit a solo homer in the seventh for the final run.

Game Notes
The four starting pitchers for Saturday's doubleheader were rookies. The last time two teams started four rookie pitchers in a doubleheader was Toronto at Milwaukee on Aug. 7, 1977. The Blue Jays started Jerry Garvin and Jim Clancy against the Brewers' Lary Sorenson and Moose Haas. ... Mets shortstop Jose Reyes said he hasn't made a decision about playing in Tuesday's All-Star Game. He will make the trip to Pittsburgh regardless of how his pinkie is doing. "You have to go, right?" the first time All-Star said with a smile Saturday. ... The Mets' previous high for runs came in a 15-2 win at Arizona on June 11. The 17 runs were the most scored at home by New York in franchise history.