Near-No-Hitter Lifts Mets
New York 13, Florida 0
Saturday, September 29, 2007; 9:27 PM
NEW YORK -- What a way to stop a late-season slide! John Maine flirted with the first no-hitter in Mets history before allowing an infield single to Paul Hoover with two outs in the eighth inning, and New York pulled into a first-place tie with Philadelphia in the NL East by routing the Florida Marlins 13-0 in a fight-filled game Saturday.
Maine finished with 14 strikeouts, the most by a Mets pitcher in eight years, and departed to a raucous ovation long after Florida catcher Miguel Olivo charged across the diamond and threw a punch at Jose Reyes in the fifth _ setting off a bench-clearing brawl.
Once order was restored, the Mets stayed alive in the playoff race by snapping a five-game skid that cost them their NL East lead.
After blowing a seven-game cushion with 17 to play and falling a game behind Philadelphia, New York entered Saturday with a chance to suddenly be eliminated from postseason contention. A loss to Florida and a Phillies win over Washington later would have sent the Mets home for the winter.
Instead, Maine (15-10) gave them the dominant pitching performance they've desperately needed for the past two weeks.
Lastings Milledge homered twice, Ramon Castro also connected and Luis Castillo had three key hits for the Mets, who had lost eight straight home games and 11 of 15 overall _ putting them in danger of completing one of the most colossal collapses in baseball history.
Maine was looking to make his own bit of history for the Mets, born in 1962. He struck out seven straight during one stretch and held Florida hitless into the eighth. With the crowd of 54,675 getting more and more excited, Hoover hit a dribbler up the third-base line that left David Wright with no chance to make a play.
Wright put his arm around Maine on the mound as manager Willie Randolph walked out to lift the right-hander after 115 pitches. Maine came out for a curtain call before Willie Collazo and Carlos Muniz finished the one-hitter.
The crowd let out another huge roar when Washington's 1-0 early lead at Philadelphia was posted on the out-of-town scoreboard.
The teams first spilled onto the field when Florida pitcher Harvey Garcia threw behind Castillo in the fifth. Mets pitching coach Rick Peterson was incensed, pointing angrily toward the Marlins as the benches and bullpens emptied.
No punches were thrown, however, with both teams mostly just milling close to each other near home plate. Florida third baseman Miguel Cabrera came down to settle former teammate Castillo, who had walked toward the mound with his arms spread wide and his bat in his hand.
After a brief delay, the game resumed. Castillo walked and Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez came out to make a double switch.