New York (65-93) at Miami (89-70)

Fair Currently: Miami Gardens, FL
Temp: 79° F
  • Game info: 7:35 pm EDT Fri Sep 26, 2003
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Florida Marlins look to take win the NL wild card as they open a season-ending three-game series against the New York Mets at Pro Player Stadium.

Florida’s 8-4 victory completed a sweep of its crucial three-game series against Philadelphia to clench a tie for the wild card and eliminate the Phillies.

If the Marlins beat the Mets on Friday, they’ll earn their first playoff berth since winning the 1997 World Series. If Florida loses, they can still clinch if either the Chicago Cubs or Houston Astros lose.

“We’re not ready to celebrate,” said McKeon, 72, who has never managed in the postseason. “We haven’t completed our job.”

The unaccustomed pressure of a playoff race has not appeared to affect the young Marlins, who have won four straight to climb a season-high 19 games over .500.

“It’s no time to get scared,” said Juan Pierre, who went 2-for-2 Thursday to reach 200 hits for the season. “I think our team is nervous but not scared. That’s why we’re playing as well as we are.”

Juan Encarnacion sparked the latest victory with a homer and four RBIs.

The Mets dropped their final home game of the season on Thursday night, falling to the Pirates 3-1.

New York, which has won just twice in the last 10 games, was swept by Florida in three games from Sept. 8-10.

STANDINGS: Mets - 5th place, 33 1/2 GB, NL East. Marlins - 2nd place, 10 GB, NL East.

METS PROBABLE STARTER: Aaron Heilman (2-6, 6.71 ERA). The rookie right-hander lasted only four innings in his last start—a 3-0 loss in relief to Philadelphia. He allowed three runs on four hits, walked four and struck out three in New York’s 4-3 defeat to the Expos on Saturday. He faced the Marlins in his first major league start on June 26, allowing five runs—one earned— and six hits over six innings in a 6-1 defeat at Shea Stadium.

MARLINS PROBABLE STARTER: Carl Pavano (11-13, 4.32 ERA). Pavano has been hit hard in his last two starts, allowing six runs in each outing—both losses. In his last start, the right-hander took the loss in Florida’s 8-0 defeat at Atlanta on Sunday, as he gave up six runs and seven hits in 4 1-3 innings. Pavano is 3-7 with a 3.92 ERA in 14 career starts against the Mets.

OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Mets - Roger Cedeno, .270 avg. and 14 SBs; Cliff Floyd, 18 HRs; Ty Wigginton, 70 RBIs and 72 runs. Marlins - Luis Castillo, .316 avg. and 98 runs; Mike Lowell, 32 HRs and 105 RBIs; Juan Pierre, 62 SBs.

SEASON SERIES: Marlins, 10-6.

STREAKS AND NOTES: Mets - C Mike Piazza is hitting .423 (11-for-26) with a home run and five RBIs in his career against RHP Pavano. … RHP Heilman has walked 39 batters in 60 1-3 innings this season. Marlins - Pavano is 8-4 with a 3.43 ERA in 16 starts at home this season. … OF Pierre is the first player in the Marlins’ 11-year history to reach 200 hits.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Mets - 31-47 on the road; Marlins - 51-27 at home.

INJURIES: Mets - SS Reyes (ankle), 60-day DL; 1B Mo Vaughn (knee), 60-day DL; OF Cliff Floyd (foot), 60-day DL; RHP Pedro Astacio (shoulder), 60-day DL; RHP Scott Strickland (elbow), 60-day DL. Marlins - 3B Mike Lowell (thumb), 15-day DL; LHP Armando Almanza (shoulder), 60-day DL; RHP Toby Borland (appendicitis), 60-day DL; RHP A.J. Burnett (elbow), 60-day DL; RHP Tim Spooneybarger (elbow), 60-day DL.

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Starting Pitchers

A. Heilman Sea vs. C. Pavano Min
2-7 Record 12-13
6.75 ERA 4.30
51 K 133
41 BB 49
1.84 WHIP 1.26