Marlins 3, Mets 1

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NEW YORK (AP)—Jack McKeon chomped on another victory cigar after his surprising Florida Marlins pulled out another clutch win.

And the Marlins manager had several more cigars on his desk, waiting to be lit during the final month of the pennant race.

Alex Gonzalez tripled in two runs with two outs in the ninth to lift Florida to a 3-1 victory over the New York Mets and keep the Marlins tied atop the NL wild card standings Tuesday night.

The Marlins won for the 10th time in 12 games and moved to a season-high 15 games over .500 (80-65). They remained deadlocked for the wild card lead with the Philadelphia Phillies, who won 18-5 at Atlanta.

“It’s a lot of fun,” said Derrek Lee, who scored the final Marlins run. “September is when you’re making offseason plans already. But right now, we’re in it.”

New York lost in its opponent’s last at-bat for the fourth time in six games.

“A lot of times this year, one pitch has beat us,” losing pitcher David Weathers said. “The bullpen on the whole has not been real good at that.”

Jeff Conine started the ninth with a single off Weathers. Pinch-runner Andy Fox took second on Juan Encarnacion’s sacrifice bunt. Weathers (1-6) hit Lee to put runners at first and second, but looked like he might work out of the jam when he struck out Miguel Cabrera.

Gonzalez, who homered in the series opener Monday, then drove a shot to center field that eluded the dive of Raul Gonzalez.

“You almost get the feeling that when we’re in a close game, no one worries, we’re going to win it,” McKeon said. “Half the bench was on the field when Lee and them guys scored. They were excited.”

Tempers flared in the ninth inning for the second straight night. Lee slammed his bat down after he was struck by Weathers’ pitch and strode toward the mound. He was steered to first base and the benches didn’t empty. On Monday, Alex Gonzalez and Mets catcher Vance Wilson exchanged words after a walk.

Ugueth Urbina (3-0) worked one inning for the victory. Braden Looper pitched a perfect ninth for his 28th save.

“We feel like if it’s a close game, we have a great chance of pulling it out,” Lee said.

The Marlins tied it at 1 in the seventh on Cabrera’s two-out double that scored Encarnacion. Cabrera is hitting .379 with runners in scoring position since the All-Star break and is 7-for-22 with six RBIs in his last six games.

“It’s fun,” Cabrera said. “I feel I have more concentration when I come to the plate.”

Florida squandered a chance to grab the lead in the eighth. With one out, Juan Pierre and Luis Castillo singled consecutively to chase Tom Glavine.

Ivan Rodriguez greeted Weathers with a hard liner to third that was snared by a leaping Ty Wigginton. He then fired a throw to second to double off Pierre.

New York took the lead in the first when Roger Cedeno led off with a single, moved to third on Timo Perez’s hit-and-run single to right and scored on Mike Piazza’s sacrifice fly.

Glavine and Carl Pavano were locked in a duel, but both departed with no-decisions.

Pavano, however, stretched his impressive recent run. He is 2-0 in his last four starts with a 1.91 ERA and is 5-1 since July 9. Pavano allowed one run on five hits in seven innings. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out two.

“I feel good. It couldn’t happen at a better time to hit a stride,” Pavano said. “Our team is running on all cylinders, I don’t want to be the guy holding us back.”

Glavine also kept up his good pitching as he worked at least six innings for the sixth straight start since being forced out by injury after just one inning on July 29.

“If I can go out and pitch like i did today, I won’t be disappointed,” said Glavine, who is 9-12. “I’d like nothing more than to finish at .500.”

The left-hander missed one start because of the strained muscle in his side,but has gone 3-1 since.

Notes

Marlins 3B Mike Lowell hopes to return to the lineup before the regular season ends. He’s been out since Aug. 30 due to a broken left hand. He has been given finger exercises and will see a doctor on Friday. … 2B Danny Garcia, the first member of the Brooklyn Cyclones to play for the Mets, will throw out the first pitch Wednesday night before the Mets affiliate opens the New York-Penn League championship series against Williamsport. … Pierre singled to open the sixth inning, extending his hitting streak to a season-high 14 games. He then stole second, his 60th steal of the season, before being picked off by Glavine before the next pitch. … Piazza has 24 RBIs in 27 games,dating to May 13.

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