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Green comes off bench to help Mets beat Nationals

Sep 30, 2006 - 2:34 AM WASHINGTON (Ticker) -- After waiting almost three hours to get into the game, Shawn Green made the most of his opportunity.

Green delivered a sacrifice fly as a pinch hitter in the eighth inning, snapping a tie and leading the New York Mets to a 4-3 victory over the Washington Nationals.

The Mets loaded the bases against reliever Jon Rauch (4-5) as Carlos Delgado and Jose Valentin opened the eighth with singles and Julio Franco walked. Green batted for Chris Woodward and narrowly missed a grand slam with a deep flyout to right that allowed Delgado to score.

"Pinch-hitting, you want to be aggressive and I was happy to work it to a favorable count, and I got a pitch to hit," Green said.

In his final tuneup before the playoffs, John Maine had a strong outing, allowing three runs - two earned - and three hits in six innings. Pedro Feliciano (7-2) came on in the seventh and loaded the bases with two outs before escaping the jam by striking out Bernie Castro.

New York manager Willie Randolph said that he's confident Maine could perform adequately in the postseason should he need him.

"Of course I'd feel comfortable with him. He's pitched well," Randolph said.

Maine (6-5) also collected his first major league hit - in his 28th at-bat.

"I was starting to hear about it. I'm glad to get it out of the way," Maine said.

Orlando Hernandez is set to start the first division series game for the Mets. Tom Glavine, who'll pitch Saturday night, is set for the second game and Sunday's starter, Steve Trachsel, would get the start in the third.

If Maine starts, it would likely come in the fourth game - if needed - and that could be eight days away.

"Whatever happens, happens. I don't know when I'll find out. I'll try to do my best," Maine said.

Maine, who hails from nearby Fredericksburg, Va., said he was excited about a potential playoff start.

"(Randolph) is going to put the best guys out there and I'll be happy to part of it," he said.

"He pitched well enough to win the game," Randolph said. "He has a tendency at times to lose his rhythm but he regrouped."

Guillermo Mota worked a perfect eighth and Billy Wagner pitched a scoreless ninth to pick up his 40th save of the season. He's converted his last 18 save opportunities.

It's the second time that Wagner has saved at least 40 and he now has 324 for his career, tying him with Troy Percival for 11th place on the all-time save list.

Nationals starter Tony Armas Jr. labored through five innings, surrendering two runs and four hits while throwing 112 pitches.

"Armas threw way too many pitches - not good," Washington manager Frank Robinson said.

Ryan Church homered and Ryan Zimmerman had a run-scoring single for the Nationals. Zimmerman leads all National League rookies with 110 RBI.

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