Marlins 5, Mets 1
NEW YORK (AP)—Section by section, the boos poured down from all around Armando Benitez as he trotted in from the Shea Stadium bullpen with a big grin on his face.
Waiting on the mound, Florida Marlins manager Jack McKeon handed the reliever the ball with a bit of advice.
“I told him to have some fun and he did,” McKeon said after Benitez earned his 21st save of the season and his third against the New York Mets.
“They got on him, didn’t they?” McKeon said. “He loved it.”
Benitez retired four straight batters to save Carl Pavano’s 5-1 victory, which ended a four-game Florida losing streak. Hitters are zero for their last 40 against the reliever who struggled often as the Mets closer before they traded him away last year.
If you believe Benitez, the boos were a non factor.
“I didn’t think about it,” he said. “I heard that for four years here. I didn’t think about it. If I think about it, I make a mistake. I had fun. That’s what we do. We enjoy what we do.”
In the Florida dugout, the Marlins were enjoying the scene.
“We were laughing in the dugout,” McKeon said. “I told him to enjoy it. Enjoy the moment. I hope they come out tomorrow and boo him again. I was surprised they didn’t cheer for their players the way they booed Benitez.”
The Mets gave the crowd of 23,266, very little to cheer about. After Cliff Floyd’s first-inning home run, New York managed just five more hits against Pavano (5-2) before Benitez finished the job.
Miguel Cabrera had three hits including a pair of doubles, scored two runs and drove in another for the Marlins, who broke a 1-1 tie in the sixth with three runs against loser Steve Trachsel (5-4). Hee Seop Choi’s sacrifice fly drove in the go-ahead run.
Pavano retired 12 straight during one stretch as the Marlins ended New York’s four-game winning streak.
“He’s been consistent every time out,” McKeon said of Pavano. “He’s matured into a frontline pitcher who gives you a chance to win every time he goes out there.”
After Floyd’s homer, Florida tied it at 1-1 in the fourth on Mike Redmond’s sacrifice fly. Cabrera doubled with one out, and Trachsel walked Choi and Damion Easley to load the bases. Redmond’s fly ball scored Cabrera and Trachsel escaped further damage when he grabbed Abraham Nunez’s bunt and threw him out, beating the runner’s headfirst slide to end the inning.
The Marlins grabbed the lead in the sixth with three runs. Mike Lowell led off with a walk, and Cabrera doubled to put runners on second and third. Choi then hit a sacrifice fly to center, scoring Lowell with the go-ahead run. Easley’s RBI double made it 3-1, and Redmond and Nunez followed with singles to drive in another run and finish Trachsel.
Trachsel allowed four runs and seven hits in 5 1-3 innings.
Cabrera made it 5-1 with a sacrifice fly off John Franco in the ninth.
The Marlins have a history of success against Trachsel, improving to 17-7 against the right-hander—including wins in five of the last six games they’ve faced him. The Marlins came in batting .287 against Trachsel, who was 3-0 overhis previous six starts with a 1.96 ERA until Friday night.
Juan Pierre led off the game with a single but was doubled off first base on Luis Castillo’s soft line drive to 3B Todd Zeile. … 2B Castillo robbed Zeile of a hit in the sixth, diving behind second base to start a double play. … CF Pierre ran down Kaz Matsui’s leadoff drive in the first, and Floyd’s 400-foot drive in the fourth. … LF Nunez made a tumbling catch on pinch-hitter Eric Valent’s drive in the eighth. … Floyd’s home run gave the Mets at least one homer in 20 of their last 24 games, and 39 in the last 30games.