Mets Beat Marlins, Keep Pace

The Associated Press
Saturday, September 22, 2007; 1:42 AM

MIAMI -- Trying to avert a September collapse, the New York Mets stumbled upon a simple solution: Hit the ball to the Florida Marlins.

Florida committed a team record six errors while allowing eight unearned runs, and the Mets put the brakes on their free fall by winning 9-6 on Friday night.

New York retained a 1 1/2-game lead in the NL East over the second-place Philadelphia Phillies, who beat Washington 6-3. The Mets led by seven games Sept. 12 but have won only two of eight games since.

A 10-inning loss Thursday at Florida ranked with the Mets' worst of the season, and they trailed 3-0 Friday before the Marlins' defense came to the rescue. Two errors each by third baseman Miguel Cabrera and first baseman Mike Jacobs led to seven unearned runs, and another scored on Miguel Olivo's passed ball.

Hard-luck Florida starter Scott Olsen (9-15) finished the fifth inning, then angrily kicked the basepath and muttered to himself as he left the game trailing 8-3 despite allowing no earned runs. The misplays were nothing new for the last-place Marlins, who lead the major leagues with 127 errors.

The game was halted for two hours, 21 minutes because of a thunderstorm in the sixth inning. The delay came after Florida's defensive meltdown allowed New York to tie the game in the third with three unearned runs, and then score three more unearned runs in the fourth for a 6-3 lead.

Pedro Martinez (3-0) pitched five innings in his fourth start since returning from rotator cuff surgery last October. He allowed four runs, three earned, and struck out seven.

Scott Schoeneweis struck out Jeremy Hermida with two on to end the eighth, then pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his first save. The Mets again didn't use closer Billy Wagner, who has been bothered by back spasms the past two days.

Carlos Delgado, playing for the first time since a hip injury sidelined him Sept. 4, hit his 23rd homer for the Mets' lone earned run. But they lost center fielder Carlos Beltran, who left the game in the fifth after bruising the patellar tendon in his left knee when he fell on the warning track chasing an extra-base hit.

New York's Moises Alou tied the game with an RBI single in the third inning to extend his hitting streak to 25 games, the longest of his career and the longest in the NL this year. Paul Lo Duca had four hits, and Beltran and Jose Reyes each had a two-run single to help the Mets reduce their magic number for clinching the division to eight with nine games left.

Florida had two errors and a passed ball in the third, when New York scored three times to tie the game. Reyes singled, and Jacobs dropped a throw for an error. Olivo's passed ball brought in one run, and Beltran's grounder rolled between Cabrera's legs for an error, scoring another run. Alou's two-out RBI single made it 3-all.

Cabrera mishandled a grounder in the fourth for his 22nd error of the season, and then with two out, four consecutive Mets reached base. Reyes walked, Luis Castillo singled home a run, David Wright walked and Beltran hit a two-run single.

New York scored two more unearned runs in the fourth. After Lo Duca doubled, Jacobs bobbled a grounder for Florida's fourth error. Martinez advanced the runners with a sacrifice, and Reyes hit a two-out, two-run single for an 8-3 lead.

Jacobs and Cabrera tried to compensate with their bats. Each had two doubles and a single, and Cabrera drove in two runs.

Florida's Hanley Ramirez doubled home two runs in the eighth.

Notes:@ The Marlins committed five errors three times, most recently May 17 of this season at Pittsburgh. ... The Mets improved to 6-1 in Miami this year. ... Olsen has lost a career-high six decisions in a row. ... Marlins CF Cody Ross left the game in the fifth inning with a tight left hamstring.

© 2007 The Associated Press