Notes: Franco gets start at first base

Notes: Franco gets start at first base

NEW YORK -- One day after Carlos Delgado hit a game-winning home run against a left-handed pitcher, Willie Randolph gave his everyday first baseman his first day off. The manager's decision had more to do with rest and the likelihood that Delgado would play all three games against the Braves this weekend and less to do with Pirates starter Paul Maholm being left-handed.

Julio Franco, the understudy for Delgado, made his first start since last season and got to face a starting pitcher for the first time. The start prompted him to slide his tongue into cheek and complain.

"I told Willie, 'You screwed up my routine. I come to the park. I take ground balls, I take [batting practice]. And now I have to play? I had 12 at-bats in a month. Ands that was good. Like that I could play 10 more years,'" Franco said.

Maine man: The question mark following John Maine's name was removed on Thursday. Randolph said Maine will make his second Mets start on normal four days' rest on Sunday in the third game of the Braves series.

Some perspective: Billy Wagner's inability to convert a save Wednesday night was his third in 10 opportunities. He converted all but three of 41 opportunities with the Phillies last season, his third coming in September. Braden Looper's third failure last season came on June 26 in his 18th opportunity.

This date in Mets history, May 5: The '62 Mets took their third one-run loss, 2-1, against the Phillies. Al Jackson was the losing pitcher. The winner was Calvin Coolidge Julius Caesar Tuskahoma McLish, a big-name pitcher back then. ... A year later, Gil Hodges played the final game of his career. He had a hit and drove in a run in the Mets' 4-2 victory against the Giants in the second game of a double-header at the Polo Grounds. ... Many people recall the 16-inning matchup between Warren Spahn, then of the Milwaukee Braves, and Juan Marichal of the Giants on July 2, 1963. Each pitched a complete game. A home run by Willie Mays won it. Was this worse? On this date in 1965, Spahn, pitching for the Mets, lost 1-0 to the Phillies and Jim Bunning. Both pitched complete games. Bunning hit a home run in the sixth inning to beat Spahnie. Spahn knew the feeling. He hit 35 home runs in his career, none in his 21 games with the Mets.

On this date in 1993, the Mets lost, 6-5, to the Dodgers in Los Angeles. The winning pitcher was a 21-year-old reliever from the Dominican whose brother had started the game. He pitched two scoreless innings and gained his first big league victory. His name: Pedro Martinez.

A year ago on this date, Aaron Heilman, 20 days removed from pitching a one-hitter, made his first appearance as a reliever and emerged as the winning pitcher in the Mets' 7-5 victory against the Phillies at Shea. Heilman returned to the rotation for two more starts, but his potential value to the bullpen had been recognized against the Phillies. By May 20, he's in the bullpen for good -- and for the good of the team, too.

Coming up: A repeat of the matchup that developed in Atlanta on Sunday -- Steve Trachsel vs. Kyle Davies. Neither pitched well in the Braves' 8-5 victory. Trachsel didn't finish the fourth; Davies didn't begin the sixth, but he won. His two victories this season have come at the Mets' expense. Trachsel has won once in his last four starts.

Marty Noble is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.