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09/07/2006 2:06 AM ET
Malo, Mets reach FSL Finals
Third baseman's key home run came on 0-2 pitch
Jonathan Malo's three-run blast carried St. Lucie into the FSL championship series. (Jerry Hale/MLB.com)

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Jonathan Malo's three-run homer powered St. Lucie to a 6-5 victory over Palm Beach on Wednesday and a spot in the Florida State League Championship Series.

Malo's blast with two outs in the eighth inning snapped a 3-3 tie. The 22-year-old third baseman hit seven homers during the regular season but none after July 26.

"Malo hit the home run on a 0-2 count," said Mets manager Gary Carter. "(Brian Stitt) tried to come inside and Malo hit it out.

"It was a very well-played game. I tip my hat to them. They are wonderful team with a lot of good players and I have all the respect in the world for (Cardinals manager Ron) 'Pop' Warner."

Carter, who was pleased to be moving on, doesn't have a preference as to which team his club will face.

"Whenever you get into the playoffs anything can happen and you don't want to say who you'd like to face," he said.

St. Lucie reliever Carlos Muniz gave up a two-run shot to Joe Mather in the ninth, but struck out the side to close out the game and earn his second playoff save.

Starter Salvador Aguilar allowed one run on five hits and four walks while fanning four in five innings. Kevin Tomasiewicz (1-0) picked up the win with 2 2/3 hitless innings.

Palm Beach starter Cory Meacham allowed three runs on five hits and four walks in six innings. Zachary Zuercher yielded one hit over 1 1/3 innings before Brian Stitt (0-1) served up Malo's home run.

Caleb Stewart singled in a run in the first and Mike Carp and Enrique Cruz hit RBI singles in the third for the Mets.

Palm Beach tied it with two runs in the sixth. Luis Cotto doubled and scored on an error by shortstop Jose Coronado while Juan Lucena singled in Rayner Laya -- who reached on the error -- to forge the deadlock.

The Mets open the FSL Finals against the winner of the series between Fort Myers and Dunedin on Friday.

Marc Jimenezis a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.