Miami (66-62) at New York (60-69)

Partly Cloudy Currently: New York, NY
Temp: 44° F
  • Game info: 7:10 pm EDT Mon Aug 30, 2004
  • TV: FSFL, FSNY
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Florida manager Jack McKeon thinks the defending World Series champions are ready to make their move.

The Marlins will look to continue climbing the NL wild-card standings when they open a four-game series against the New York Mets at Shea Stadium.

By completing a three-game sweep of the Colorado Rockies with an 8-4 win on Sunday, the Marlins moved within four games of the wild-card-leading Chicago Cubs and San Diego Padres.

“I think, ‘Here we come,”’ McKeon said, “but we can’t take these three days and say, ‘We’re there.”’

A.J. Burnett struck out a team-record 14 in eight impressive innings Sunday, and Miguel Cabrera homered to highlight Florida’s five-run second inning.

Mike Lowell also homered, and Paul Lo Duca went 3-for-3 with two RBIs for the Marlins, who moved four games above .500 for the first time since they were 41-37 on June 30.

“There’s a long time to go,” Cabrera said. “If we keep playing the way we are, we have a (playoff) chance.”

The Marlins hope to improve those chances against the Mets, who have lost two straight and eight of 10.

New York fell to 1-6 on its 11-game homestand with a 10-2 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday, drawing boos from the Shea Stadium crowd.

The Mets now hope to get a boost from the return of first baseman Mike Piazza, who will activated from the disabled list before the game. Piazza has been out since Aug. 7 with inflammation in his left knee.

“I’ll be glad to see Mike back,” Mets left fielder Cliff Floyd said. “His presence means a lot to our team.”

STANDINGS (through Aug. 28): Marlins - 2nd place, 9 1/2 GB, NL East. Mets - 4th place, 15 GB, NL East.

MARLINS PROBABLE STARTER: Dontrelle Willis (9-9, 3.87 ERA). Willis has allowed two earned runs or fewer in three of his past four starts, but he has just one win in that span. The 22-year-old left-hander gave up three runs—two earned—and three hits over six innings Wednesday, but he did not get a decision in the Marlins’ 6-5 loss to the San Francisco Giants. Willis is 5-0 with a 1.74 ERA in six career games against the Mets.

METS PROBABLE STARTER: Al Leiter (9-5, 2.69 ERA). Leiter has allowed at least three earned runs in three of his past four starts, going 1-2 with a 5.40 in that span. The 38-year-old left-hander surrendered four runs and seven hits over 6 2-3 innings Wednesday in a 4-0 loss to the San Diego Padres. Leiter is 12-6 with a 4.37 ERA in 19 career games against the Marlins.

OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Marlins - Cabrera, .311 avg., 26 HRs, 86 RBIs and 84 runs; Juan Pierre, 35 SBs. Mets - Piazza, .276 avg.; Mike Cameron, 28 HRs, 69 runs and 21 SBs; Richard Hidalgo, 72 RBIs.

SEASON SERIES: Marlins, 9-3.

STREAKS AND NOTES: Marlins - CF Pierre set a team record with his 11th triple of the season on Sunday. … 3B Mike Lowell is batting .205 (8-for-39) in his career against LHP Leiter. … Florida has won five of its past six series. Mets - CF Cameron did not play Sunday, because he did not feel well. … C Vance Wilson is batting .133 (2-for-15) in his career against LHP Willis. … 1B Piazza needs one homer to tie Carlton Fisk for 56th on the all-time list with 376.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Marlins - 31-33 on the road; Mets - 32-31 at home.

INJURIES: Marlins - C Ramon Castro (toe), 60-day DL; INF Wil Cordero (knee), 60-day DL; RHP Chad Fox (elbow), 60-day DL; RHP Tim Spooneybarger (elbow), 60-day DL. Mets - INF Kazuo Matsui (back), 15-day DL; INF Joe McEwing (leg), 15-day DL; INF Jose Reyes (leg), 15-day DL; RHP Victor Zambrano (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Orber Moreno (shoulder), 60-day DL; RHP Jose Parra (hip), 60-day DL; RHP Grant Roberts (shoulder), 60-day DL; RHP Scott Strickland (elbow), 60-day DL; INF Mo Vaughn (knee), 60-day DL.

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Starting Pitchers

D. Willis Mil vs. A. Leiter NYY
10-11 Record 10-8
4.02 ERA 3.21
139 K 117
61 BB 97
1.38 WHIP 1.35