It may appear that a home-field advantage is helping the New York Mets save their season this weekend, except for the fact they aren’t playing at Shea Stadium.
The revitalized Mets look for their third consecutive win in Miami when they wrap up their four-game series with the Florida Marlins on Sunday.
New York (86-68) arrived in Florida for this series having dropped six of its last eight games. After an 8-7 loss Thursday night, the Mets’ NL East lead over Philadelphia - which had been seven games on Sept. 12 - had shrunk to 1 1/2 games.
However, the Mets have recovered some, following up a 9-6 win on Friday with a 7-2 victory on Saturday. That’s allowed New York to maintain its 1 1/2-game lead on surging Philadelphia - which has won nine of 10 - and decrease its magic number to clinch the division to seven with eight games to play.
“Sometimes when you get one win, it seems like three,” Mets manager Willie Randolph said. “That’s the way it feels right now, because they’re all huge.”
Saturday’s win, played before a crowd largely made up of New York fans, improved the Mets to 7-1 at Dolphin Stadium this season.
“It’s a good feeling when the Mets fans outnumber the Marlins fans,” New York third baseman David Wright said. “It’s kind of our home away from home.”
Wright went 3-for-5 on Saturday, and is 7-for-13 in the series to help lead the surging Mets offense. New York has scored seven runs or more in each of its last five games, batting .316 (59-for-187) with 15 doubles in that span.
Moises Alou went 1-for-4 Saturday to extend his hitting streak to 26 games, matching Wright’s franchise record which bridged the 2006-07 seasons. Alou is batting .416 (32-for-77) during his run, which has also tied him with Cleveland’s Casey Blake for the longest hitting streak in the majors this year.
The Mets provided John Maine (14-10, 4.04 ERA) with plenty of offense on Tuesday at Washington, but he squandered his seven runs of support by allowing eight runs and 11 hits in 4 1-3 innings in the 9-8 defeat. The poor outing dropped the right-hander to 0-2 with a 9.71 ERA in three September starts.
Maine, though, has been excellent in two starts at Florida this season, winning both while giving up only four runs and six hits over 13 innings with 15 strikeouts.
If Maine can leave Sunday’s contest with the lead, closer Billy Wagner may be available. Wagner, who has been battling back spasms in recent days, was not needed for a save situation on Saturday but said he can pitch.
“It’s the best I’ve felt in two or three days,” he said. “I’m pretty excited about it. We’ve turned the corner a little bit.”
Florida will send rookie Chris Seddon (0-1, 8.44) to the mound for his sixth major league appearance and third start. The left-hander has yet to pitch through the fifth inning as a starter. At Atlanta on Tuesday, Seddon gave up four runs - three earned - and nine hits in 4 2-3 innings of the Marlins’ 4-3 loss.
Florida (66-89) has dropped six of its last seven games and is tied with Pittsburgh for the worst record in the National League.