Mets 4, Marlins 1
NEW YORK (AP)—For his first time on the mound in more than 13 months, Florida’s A.J. Burnett had no complaints. Neither did Marlins manager Jack McKeon.
Despite the New York Mets’ 4-1 victory Thursday night, Burnett and McKeon preferred to look at the big picture.
“I felt good,” said Burnett, who is coming back from elbow ligament replacement surgery. “I definitely got better as I went along. For a first time out, I felt healthy. It was a pleasure to be out there, an honor. I haven’t done it in a long time and it was fun.”
Burnett worked four innings and gave up two runs on five hits. All of the damage against him was done in the second when consecutive hits by Karim Garcia, Ty Wigginton and Mike Cameron produced a pair of runs. Except for that and two singles by Cliff Floyd, Burnett was fine.
Maybe better than fine.
Mets manager Art Howe peeked at the scoreboard a couple of times and saw it reporting 97 mph fastballs. “For the first time back, 97 mph,” Howe said. “He threw the heck out of the ball. He looked healthy to me.”
Burnett threw 83 pitches in just four innings, 48 for strikes.
“He did a good job, I thought,” McKeon said. “He threw too many pitches. He was getting behind too many guys. He threw 50 pitches in two innings. You’ve got to expect something like that the first time out. His adrenaline is up. Now we’ve got that out of the way.”
Jae Seo (3-4) worked six innings, allowing just three hits to earn the victory, the Mets’ fourth in a row. Mike Stanton threw two scoreless innings, and Braden Looper pitched a perfect ninth for his 11th save.
The victory moved the Mets one game over .500 at 27-26, and just 2 1/2 games behind the first-place Marlins in the NL East.
It was the fourth straight loss for Florida since the Marlins swept a three-game series from New York last weekend.
The game was the first for Burnett (0-1) since April 25, 2003, against St. Louis. He had the ligament in his right elbow replaced four days later.
Burnett made three rehab starts in the minors, throwing 11 2-3 innings and allowing five runs on 12 hits with five walks and 17 strikeouts. He paused on the mound before throwing his first pitch against the Mets, turning his back to the plate and gazing out to center field.
“We’ll build from here,” Burnett said. “I’ll get more comfortable each time out there. I was not really nervous. Overall, I threw pretty well.”
In the second inning, Garcia singled with one out and Wigginton followed with a run-scoring triple. Cameron, whose batting average had dipped below .200, then doubled to score Wigginton.
After Cameron stole third base, Burnett struck out Seo and got Kaz Matsui on a fly ball to get out of the inning.
The Marlins got a run back in the fifth when Heep Seop Choi opened with a double and came around on a pair of infield outs. Then pitcher Dontrelle Willis, who took a perfect game into the seventh inning against Cincinnati on Wednesday, pinch hit for Burnett and struck out.
Florida threatened in the sixth when Mike Lowell walked with two outs and raced to third on a single by Miguel Cabrera that Cliff Floyd trapped in left field. Floyd had trouble retrieving the ball, and Cabrera took second. Seo fell behind Jeff Conine, but recovered to get him on an inning-ending fly to right.
New York added to its lead in the bottom of the sixth when Mike Piazza walked with one out and Jason Phillips, Garcia and Wigginton followed with hits for a 3-1 lead. Cameron then grounded into a force play but beat the relay to first base, allowing Phillips to score with the Mets’ fourth run.
McKeon said before the game that he didn’t know what to expect from Burnett, whose last major league victory came on Aug. 18, 2002, when he threw a three-hit shutout against San Francisco.
“I have no idea what we’ll get,” McKeon said before the game. “I’d like seven innings. That’s what I’d like.”
Instead, he got four credible ones, not unreasonable for a first time back
Wigginton’s triple gave him an extra base hit for an eighth straight game, a Mets record. Steve Henderson (1977) and Tommie Agee (1969) each had streaks of seven straight. … The eight-game hitting streak ties Wigginton’s career high. … Cameron robbed Cabrera of an extra-base hit in the fourth, chasing down his drive at the center field fence. … Lowell walked twice oneight straight balls from Seo.