New York (57-49) at Miami (56-50)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Miami Gardens, FL, US
Temp: 85° F
  • Game info: 7:10 pm EDT Tue Jul 29, 2008
  • TV: SNY, SUN
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The New York Mets lead the NL East largely because of their success against their two closest competitors. A lot of the credit for that success goes to Oliver Perez.

Hoping to continue his recent hot streak and his strong play against fellow division contenders, Perez takes the mound as the Mets continue a three-game series against the Florida Marlins on Tuesday night at Dolphin Stadium.

On Thursday, Perez (6-6, 4.15 ERA) held Philadelphia to one run while striking out a season-high 12 in 7 2-3 innings of New York’s 3-1 win. The left-hander lowered his ERA to 0.35 in four starts against the second-place Phillies, who the Mets (57-49) have beaten nine times in 13 meetings - helping produce their division lead of one-half game.

“I just try and pitch like I’m facing the best team in baseball,” Perez told the Mets’ official Web site. “And when I take the ball, I’m thinking like I’m the best pitcher in the league.”

That hasn’t been an unreasonable assumption lately, as Perez has a 1.34 ERA in five starts since June 29.

“Just trying to make pitches and the more important (thing), I always say, trying to (keep) my team in the game,” he said.

Perez has done a fine job of that against Florida (56-50). He’s 1-0 with a 3.75 ERA and 15 strikeouts in 12 innings spanning two starts against the Marlins - both Mets victories. His club has won nine of his 12 career starts against Florida.

New York had won four of six games against the Marlins this season before Monday’s series opener, in which it blew two leads en route to a 7-3 defeat.

The Marlins rallied for five runs in the eighth inning to record their NL-leading 31st comeback victory and pull within one game of the Mets.

“You definitely don’t draw it up like that,” said Marlins outfielder Cody Ross, who hit a game-tying RBI single in the sixth inning and a go-ahead RBI single in the eighth. “You’d rather go out there and win 4-0. But it shows how much heart we have as a team.”

The comeback came one day after Florida blew a 5-0 lead in a 9-6 loss to the Chicago Cubs.

“It’s just about riding the wave,” All-Star second baseman Dan Uggla said. “If we keep playing the way we’re playing, showing up at the ballpark and doing our thing, we’ll be fine.”

The Marlins will hand the ball to left-hander Scott Olsen (6-5, 4.07), who had won consecutive starts before getting tagged for six runs in six innings of a 6-3 loss to the Cubs on Thursday.

Olsen, who’s 4-3 with a 3.12 ERA in 12 starts at home, is 1-2 with a 4.25 ERA in nine career starts against New York.

Mets shortstop Jose Reyes, batting .323 (10-for-31) with three homers, three doubles and seven runs scored in seven games against the Marlins this year, is 11-for-22 with a home run, a triple and three doubles lifetime versus Olsen.

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Starting Pitchers

O. PĂ©rez WAS vs. S. Olsen TEX
10-7 Record 8-11
4.22 ERA 4.20
180 K 113
105 BB 69
1.40 WHIP 1.31

Scoreboard

Tuesday, Jul 29