SAN FRANCISCO -- Few single-game developments in the course of 162 games lift a team so much as a late-inning reversal that produces a victory. The expressions of the Mets, facial and verbal, suggested as much Wednesday afternoon after they had 180ed the Giants late and put a surprise happy ending on a two-city excursion that began so promisingly last week.

The Mets departed downtown San Fran wearing a group smile that went hand in hand with the group haircut of Tuesday night. They had won by, well ... a hair, tying the score in the eighth inning and exploiting Armando Benitez in the ninth. And what made their 5-3 victory even more encouraging was that three of the men most responsible for it were those who would benefit most from a renewed sense of accomplishment -- Carlos Delgado, Aaron Heilman and David Wright.

Delgado hit an early home run into McCovey Cove and a run-scoring hit into the vacancy created by the Giants' overshift to tie the score in the eighth. Heilman faced merely two batters with a runner on in the eighth, but looked quite nasty. And Wright provided the margin of victory with a well-struck double against Benitez.

John Maine, Tom Glavine, Jose Reyes and Shawn Green had done most of the heavy lifting through the team's first 30 games. Delgado, Wright and Heilman had been wearing inertia's straitjacket. And they weren't unaffected by it. As a teammate said, "If David kept up hitting like he was, he wouldn't have needed the buzz [cut]. He would have pulled it all out."

But there was Wright instead pulling a bases-loaded pitch from Benitez into the left-field corner for the two runs that were the difference between a 5-2 trip and a 4-3 record on stops here and in Phoenix.

"This will help him a lot," said Paul Lo Duca who, as much as any teammate, knows the sense of responsibility Wright feels. Wright wants to be the best at whatever he does, and that includes being the game's best slump-buster -- if he must be. He hadn't been all that good at it.

The double wasn't Wright's first important hit of the season, of course. Indeed, his ninth-inning home run against the Diamondbacks on Thursday put the game out of reach. And he doubled in the three-run rally in the first inning Tuesday. But this one was the kind of blow Wright covets, the kind that will buoy him more than a half-dozen leadoff singles.

"Exactly," a teammate said. "David wants to be the man."

Wright denies that with one sentence but, in the next, he says, "I want to be the one up in that situation." Jerry West with a bat.

The situation Wright faced was all but ideal -- bases loaded, one out and facing a pitcher whose command, over the years, has been lacking with the bases loaded. Benitez's foibles with the bags full hardly are unfamiliar to those with allegiance to the Mets. The batting average against him was quite acceptable, .247. But in 106 situations before Wednesday, he had hit a batter and allowed 10 singles, four doubles, a triple, nine sacrifice flies, 11 walks and six grand slams. Six.

The Mets were unaware of the specifics of that carnage, but Willie Randolph acknowledged the club knew Benitez was susceptible to being rattled.

The leadoff single by Lo Duca in the ninth, his fifth hit in two games, probably didn't achieve the rattle. And when Ruben Gotay bunted into a force play and Benitez got ahead of Endy Chavez 1-2, the rattle seemed lost. But Chavez expertly worked a walk, affording Reyes, the team's second-leading run producer, an opportunity.

The rattle was in when Reyes' pop to short right fell untouched between right fielder Todd Linden and second baseman Ray Durham, loaded the bases for Wright, who was batting .206 in 34 at-bats with runners in scoring position.

Benitez fell behind 3-0. Wright's third hit in four at-bats with the bases loaded came on a 3-1 fastball.

The Mets had tied the score in the eighth on Delgado's hit against Brad Hennessey with one out. Delgado hit a line drive to left-center that normally would have produced a single. But with the Giants outfielders overshifted to right, Carlos Beltran, running with the pitch, scored from first base, and Delgado was credited with an RBI double. Delgado had produced the Mets' first run as well, in the fourth inning, when he hit his second home run, the third of his career into McCovey Cove, against Matt Morris. Gotay had hit his first home run in the third.

"We have so many weapons," Lo Duca said. "And we never have to have all of them working at one time to win. But it's nice when you see David and the two Carloses hitting. We're pretty dangerous then. And it looks like we have that. This one will help David and that helps us."