Florida (82-76) at New York (88-71)

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  • Game info: 7:10 pm EDT Fri Sep 26, 2008
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The New York Mets hope this weekend won’t be the last time they take the field at Shea Stadium.

The Mets look to move closer to a postseason berth as they open the final regular-season series at Shea on Friday night against the Florida Marlins.

After a devastating extra-inning loss to playoff-bound Chicago on Wednesday, Carlos Beltran singled home the winner in the bottom of the ninth to give New York (88-71) a 7-6 comeback victory over the Cubs on Thursday.

The result, coupled with Milwaukee’s 5-1 victory in 10 innings over Pittsburgh, left the Mets and Brewers still tied atop the NL wild-card standings and New York closed within one game of idle Philadelphia in the East. The Brewers host the Cubs, while the Phillies host Washington this weekend.

With the final three regular season games looming at Shea before the Mets move to new Citi Field, the club hopes to usher the stadium out in the postseason. There is also rain in the forecast for New York this weekend, which could hinder this series and also affect the NL East and wild-card races.

“We have three games left and it’s going to be hard,” Beltran said.

New York, which split the four-game set with the Cubs, has lost four of six and faces Florida (82-76), which took two of three in the final series of 2007 to help keep the Mets out of the playoffs after leading the East by seven games with 17 to play.

The Mets are 9-6 versus the Marlins this season, including 4-2 at Shea.

“We’ve all been watching the (Mets’) games here (on TV). For us, it’s going to be a playoff-type atmosphere, it really is,” said Florida manager Fredi Gonzalez, whose team was eliminated from postseason contention Tuesday. “We’re not going to be in the playoffs, but that’s going to be as close as we’re going to get this season.”

Ryan Church went 3-for-3 with two RBIs and Beltran added two hits on Thursday for the Mets, who scored four runs in the final three innings to erase a 6-3 deficit.

“The one thing about this team is it has responded to adversity,” New York manager Jerry Manuel said. “(Thursday) was another example of that.”

Beltran, batting .314 (11-for-35) with seven RBIs in his last nine contests, is hitting .315 (17-for-54) with three home runs and 12 RBIs against Florida this season.

New York’s Mike Pelfrey (13-10, 3.70 ERA) looks to avoid a third consecutive losing decision overall while trying for his first win this season against Florida. He allowed three runs and six hits in six innings, but didn’t factor in a 7-6 loss to Atlanta on Sunday.

The right-hander is 0-3 with a 7.91 ERA in four starts versus the Marlins this season and 1-4 in seven career appearances against them.

Florida will again look for its second straight victory after rain canceled its deciding series finale on Thursday at Washington. Gonzalez is expected to keep his rotation as scheduled with rookie Chris Volstad (5-4, 3.10) taking the ball.

Volstad, who allowed two earned runs and six hits in five innings of a 5-2 loss to Philadelphia on Sunday, will make his second start against New York. The right-hander gave up one run in 6 1-3 innings, but didn’t factor in a 5-4 loss to the Mets on Aug. 29.

Florida’s Hanley Ramirez went 3-for-3 with his 33rd homer in a 9-4 victory over the Nationals on Wednesday and is 9-for-21 with three homers and two doubles in his last five contests.

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Starting Pitchers

C. Volstad CWS vs. M. Pelfrey DET
6-4 Record 13-11
2.88 ERA 3.72
52 K 110
36 BB 64
1.33 WHIP 1.36