Marlins 5, Mets 2

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MIAMI (AP)—When the smoke cleared, the Florida Marlins were on their way to a much-needed victory.

Haze from an Everglades brush fire descended on Pro Player Stadium for several innings Saturday, but the Marlins overcame the smoke and Tom Glavine to beat the New York Mets 5-2.

Mike Lowell hit a two-run homer and Ben Howard pitched out of a seventh-inning jam for the Marlins, who won for only the third time in 10 games.

On a muggy, 89-degree evening, smoke from a blaze more than 10 miles away filled the stadium from the second to the fifth innings. But it failed to faze an enthusiastic crowd of 41,212, and it didn’t deter the Marlins.

“We like to play with smoke,” manager Jack McKeon said jokingly afterward as he lit one of his ever-present cigars. “There’s always some smoke in this stadium.”

The conditions presented a new challenge for Glavine (7-7) in his 556th career start.

“I felt like I was pitching in a forest fire,” he said. “It’s enough that it’s hot and humid. Then you have to deal with the smoke.”

Glavine allowed four runs in six innings, hiking his ERA to 2.66.

“To get four runs off a guy like that, it’s nice,” said winning pitcher Brad Penny (8-7). “You’ve got to take advantage of it.”

Penny shut out New York for six innings but ran into trouble in the seventh. Howard retired Cliff Floyd and Richard Hidalgo with the bases loaded to end the threat and preserve a 4-2 lead, then celebrated with a fist pump as he headed for the dugout.

“It’s the first time I’ve ever had 40,000 people cheering for me to get somebody out,” Howard said.

Armando Benitez earned his 29th save in 31 chances. The well-rested closer called the dugout during the game to say he was available to work both the eighth and ninth, and he pitched two innings for just the second time this season.

“He said, `I want two,’ and we said, `You’ve got it,”’ McKeon said. “It was a good move, because we needed to win this game.”

Benitez struck out four, allowed just one baserunner and lowered his ERA to 1.00.

Lowell’s home run was his 20th of the season and his 128th with Florida, leaving him one shy of the club record held by Derrek Lee. Alex Gonzalez added a solo homer in the eighth, his fourth in six games and his 12th of the season.

The Mets, who had won seven of their past nine games, fell behind 4-0 before back-to-back doubles by Mike Cameron and Shane Spencer started the seventh. After Penny departed, Todd Zeile walked and Jose Reyes singled to make it 4-2.

McKeon then called on Howard, who gave up a sacrifice and a walk before retiring Floyd on a popup and Hidalgo on a strikes.

“At this level, when you don’t do it, you end up being the goat,” Floyd said.

Penny, who went 1-5 in his past six starts, allowed seven hits and two runs and improved to 2-8 against the Mets.

Juan Pierre led off the Marlins’ first with a single, took second on a sacrifice and scored on Miguel Cabrera’s single before Lowell homered.

Florida made it 4-0 in the sixth when Hee Seop Choi led off with a singleand came home on a double by Gonzalez.

Notes

Mike Piazza’s single in the sixth for New York was the 1,800th hit of his career. … Florida starters have an ERA of 2.16 in the past four games. … Mike Redmond went 0-for-3 against Glavine, dropping his career average against the left-hander to .438. … Hidalgo extended his hitting streak to 13 games with a single in the second. … Florida’s Jeff Conine, who popped out with the bases loaded to end the fifth, is in a 3-for-33 slump. … Glavine’scareer record at Pro Player Stadium fell to 6-12 with an ERA of 4.40.

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