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Glavine, Franco continue to defy age as Mets roll

Oct 1, 2006 - 2:04 AM WASHINGTON (Ticker) -- Tom Glavine and Julio Franco taught the Washington Nationals to respect their elders.

Glavine worked six impressive innings and Franco matched a career high with five RBI as the New York Mets rolled to a 13-0 triumph over the Nationals in the penultimate regular-season contest for both teams.

Already without three-time Cy Young Award winner Pedro Martinez, who will be sidelined until May with tears in both his calf and rotator cuff, the Mets need Glavine to inherit the role of ace for the playoffs.

The 40-year-old lefthander played the part Saturday, allowing just three hits without a walk in his final tune-up for the playoffs. He also struck out four in improving to 3-1 over his last five starts.

"It was like the perfect tune-up," Mets manager Willie Randolph said. "We scored a bunch of runs for him and he was great tonight. (I'm) looking forward to his next start. ... He did everything you want to see. Hopefully that translates into next Thursday."

Glavine is 10 wins shy of becoming the 23rd pitcher in baseball history with 300 wins, but the former Cy Young Award winner is focused purely on the upcoming postseason.

"After that, I wish Thursday was coming a little bit sooner," said Glavine, who finished the season with a 3.82 ERA. "I couldn't have asked for anything better than that. To go out there and feel good, throw good, and get a lot of runs, it was a good night."

Glavine (15-7) also received plenty of help from his friends. In particular, 48-year-old Julio Franco drove in five runs for the seventh time in his career and for the first time in more than 12 years.

"He's pretty remarkable, and tonight was another example," Glavine said. "It just seems like when he gets in there to play and gets an opportunity, he does something with it. He certainly is going to be a big key for us in the postseason."

Franco smacked a three-run homer in the first inning and added a two-run double in the following frame. He also singled in the fourth, giving him a couple of shots at an improbable cycle.

"It would have been interesting to see him leg out a triple," Randolph said. "I was hoping he would. That would've been funny. I think he probably would've got thrown out by half a mile, but he probably would've tried it."

"Of course you think about (the cycle)," Franco said. "You think that happens every day? If I hit the ball in the gap, I was going to run until they tagged me or I made it to third."

Franco's second home run of the season was one of a season-high five on the night for New York, which also received blasts from Endy Chavez, Shawn Green, Ramon Castro and David Wright.

"We're trying to be aggressive and trying to make good contact to continue to be ready for the playoffs," said Chavez, who homered for the first time since August 18. "We're already in the playoffs. It don't matter if this game doesn't count for us any more, but the numbers are still counting. We're trying to keep things the right way and make something happen in the playoffs."

Darren Oliver worked the seventh inning and Royce Ring logged the final two frames to seal the four-hitter for the Mets, who won their third straight contest following a stretch of seven losses in eight games.

New York (96-65) will face either San Diego or Los Angeles - whichever winds up as the wild card team - in the National League Division Series.

Much of the Mets' offense came against rookie Beltran Perez (2-1), who was charged with six runs and six hits in three innings in his third career start.

"You don't like to go out and see your ballclub get banged around the way we did tonight," Nationals manager Frank Robinson said. "At least it wasn't sloppy."

Washington has lost three of four following a three-game winning streak. The highlight of the night for the Nationals was Robinson waving to the fans on the day it officially was announced that he would not return next season as the team's skipper.

"I look at Frank Robinson as a living legend," Randolph said. "He was an outstanding player. ... I think it's important that people know what kind of legacy he's been a part of. And the fact that he's done a great job for this organization, so it's kind of sad to see him leave. The fans love him and it's nice to see them acknowledge him like that."

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