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Mike Piazza and Octavio Dotel gave the New York Mets some margin for error. The Mets' bullpen nearly wasted it.

Piazza hit a three-run homer and Dotel won his seventh consecutive decision, but the Mets almost blew a six-run lead before holding on to beat San Francisco, 7-5, Wednesday, their 18th win in 27 games.

"We need to give them a cushion so they can work through their problems," Piazza said. "They've hit a wall. Hopefully, they'll get their second wind and pick us up again."

Pat Mahomes and Dennis Cook gave up four runs in the eighth inning, and the tying runs were on base before Armando Benitez got the final four outs for his 18th save in 23 chances.

"I was lost out there," said Mahomes, who allowed two walks, one hit and three runs without retiring a batter. "I didn't have any control of the ball. I guess it was my turn to be bad."

The Mets, who remained 3 1/2 games behind Atlanta in the NL East and 3 1/2 in front of Cincinnati for the wild card, go on the road for 13 of their next 16 games.

The Mets bullpen, second-best to Cincinnati in the NL for most of the season, is now fifth in the league with a 3.85 ERA. The heavy workload early in the season appears to be catching up to the relievers. They have five losses in the last 14 games after losing only five in the previous 63.

Finley hits three homers

MILWAUKEE -- Three pitchers, three homers: Nobody could keep Steve Finley in the ballpark.

Finley became the first Arizona player to hit three homers in a game as the Diamondbacks routed the Brewers, 9-1.

Finley hit a two-run homer in the sixth inning off Hideo Nomo, a three-run drive in the seventh off Mike Myers and a solo shot in the ninth off David Weathers. He has 29 homers this season.

It was the third three-homer game of Finley's career and the 15th three-homer game in the majors this season, matching the record set in 1987 and tied in 1996.

"I'm not trying to hit the ball out of the ballpark," Finley said. "I'm just trying to get a good pitch and put a good swing on it, and they're going in the gaps and going out of the park,. I'm not going to complain about that."

Finley's slugging helped Arizona increase its lead in the NL West to 7 1/2 games over San Francisco.

Around the horn

Greg Vaughn hit his fourth homer in two games as the Reds beat the Cubs, 6-4. . . . Jeff Bagwell's 40th homer capped a nine-run sixth inning, Houston's biggest since 1995, as the Astros won their sixth straight, beating the Phillies, 10-2. Mike Hampton (19-3) won his 10th consecutive decision, tying teammate Jose Lima for the NL lead in wins. . . . Mark McGwire was held to a harmless single on the anniversary of his record-breaking 62nd homer as the Braves beat the Cardinals, 5-4. . . . Todd Helton homered twice to reach 30 for the first time in his career, and Larry Walker hit his 35th home run as the Rockies topped the Expos, 5-1. . . . Wiki Gonzalez's two-run single in the 10th capped the Padres' third comeback of the game en route to a 7-4 win over the Pirates. . . . Mark Kotsay singled home the winning run with one out in the 13th inning, giving the Marlins a 5-4 win over the Dodgers. It ended a marathon game that was delayed three times by rain. The delays totaled 3 hours and 14 minutes. The crowd of 9,615 dwindled to about 200 by the finish, 7 1/2 hours after the scheduled 4:05 p.m. starting time.

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