New York (57-48) at Florida (55-50)

Thunderstorms Currently: Miami Gardens, FL, US
Temp: 85° F
  • Game info: 7:10 pm EDT Mon Jul 28, 2008
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The NL East-leading New York Mets are looking to create some breathing room atop the crowded division. A three-game set against the third-place Florida Marlins could help them accomplish that goal.

The East rivals open the key series Monday at Dolphin Stadium.

The Mets (57-48) are one game ahead of the second-place Philadelphia Phillies, who are idle Monday, and two in front of the Marlins (55-50).

New York, which has won 15 of its last 19 overall, is 12-2 in its last 14 visits to Miami, taking two of three there to open the season from March 31-April 2. The Mets replicated that feat at home from May 26-28.

They’re coming off a 4-2 homestand, capped by a 9-1 win over St. Louis on Sunday as Johan Santana scattered six hits in New York’s first complete game of the season.

“We needed that big,” Mets manager Jerry Manuel said. “He was very adamant about going back out. He really wanted the complete game.”

The Mets now begin a six-game road trip. They’re 25-28 away from home, but have won five of their last seven road games, hitting .316 with eight homers and 44 runs over that span.

David Wright, who went 3-for-5 with a homer and two RBIs Sunday, enters the trip looking to build on an impressive homestand. The All-Star third baseman went 11-for-27 (.407) with one homer and six RBIs in the last six games.

Wright is hitting .408 (40-for-98) with four homers, 18 RBIs and 18 walks in his last 24 games against the Marlins. In 32 games at Miami, he’s batting .355 with one homer, 22 RBIs and 20 walks.

The Mets give the ball to John Maine (9-7, 4.20 ERA), who went 3-0 with a 2.45 ERA and 38 strikeouts in 25 2-3 innings over four starts against Florida last year.

He’ll try to continue that success this season after a solid effort in a 6-3 win over Philadelphia on Wednesday, allowing three runs and six hits with five strikeouts over seven innings. That performance came after he went 0-2 with a 6.63 ERA over his four previous starts - three on the road.

“I just needed a good game,” said Maine, who is 0-2 with a 6.91 ERA in his last three road starts.

The Marlins, 29-23 at home, are struggling at the plate, hitting .190 over the last eight games. However, they’ve hit 11 homers and scored 26 runs in that span to win four of those contests.

That formula didn’t help them much at Chicago on Sunday, as three of their nine hits were homers in a 9-6 loss to the Cubs.

“We have a big series coming up so we have to put this behind us,” said Marlins first baseman Mike Jacobs, who went 3-for-4 with two homers and three RBIs Sunday. “We have the Mets coming in and that’s who we’re chasing. Hopefully we can have a good series at home.”

The Marlins hope Ricky Nolasco (10-6, 3.99), the team’s leader in wins, can avoid losing a third consecutive start.

The right-hander has dropped his last two games by giving up nine runs and 15 hits, including two homers, in 12 innings. He lasted five innings Wednesday, yielding five runs and eight hits in a 9-4 loss to Atlanta. It was his shortest outing since he allowed three runs and nine hits - two homers - in five innings of a 7-3 win over the Mets on May 26.

Nolasco is 2-0 with a 2.77 ERA in his last three games against New York. However, he’s 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA in four outings - two starts - at home.

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Starting Pitchers

J. Maine MIA vs. R. Nolasco MIN
10-8 Record 15-8
4.18 ERA 3.52
122 K 186
67 BB 42
1.35 WHIP 1.10


Monday, Jul 28