Marlins 9, Mets 6

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NEW YORK (AP)—The way the Florida Marlins are playing, only a force of nature could slow them down.

That’s exactly what happened.

Carl Pavano and the Marlins beat the New York Mets 9-6 Thursday for their seventh win in a row before packing up and flying back to South Florida to prepare for Hurricane Frances. The storm has already forced the postponement of Friday night’s game against the Chicago Cubs—but the Marlins aren’t fazed.

“The good news is, I saved $159 on my car insurance,” manager Jack McKeon said, spoofing the ubiquitous commercials in his own way. “Hopefully, we’ll start up again Saturday and keep going the way we’ve been going.”

Players showered and dressed quickly so they could return to a state bracing for its worst storm in at least a decade. Frances, packing 145 mph winds and the potential to push ashore waves up to 15 feet high, could be felt in Florida by midmorning Friday.

“A lot of us have houses and family down there, so obviously we’re worried about it,” Pavano said.

The Marlins said no decision had been made on whether to call off games Saturday or Sunday, or when Friday’s postponement will be made up.

Pavano, who tied for the NL lead with his 16th win, allowed four runs and eight hits in six-plus innings. Damion Easley and Juan Encarnacion each drove in three runs for the Marlins, who swept the four-game series.

Rookie third baseman David Wright homered twice for the free-falling Mets, who have lost six straight and 11 of 12, ending their homestand at 1-10. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the Mets’ worst homestand of 10 or more games since their first season in 1962.

Pavano (16-5) struck out six and left after allowing Jeff Keppinger’s leadoff single in the seventh. Guillermo Mota pitched two hitless innings of relief, and Josias Manzanillo finished up.

Wright hit a three-run homer off Pavano with two outs in the fourth and a solo shot off Manzanillo in the ninth for his first career multihomer game.

“Obviously, it’s bittersweet,” Wright said. “It’s exciting that I do get the multi-home run game. But I’d much rather have the win. Definitely one of my best games. I fixed a few things in my swing, and I feel really good.”

Pavano is tied with Houston’s Roy Oswalt, but has a better record than Oswalt’s 16-9. Mark Mulder of Oakland and Curt Schilling of Boston both have 17 wins.

The Marlins are 2 1/2 games behind Chicago for the NL wild-card spot. San Francisco and San Diego also stand between the defending World Series champions and their third postseason appearance. Though they’ve won two World Series titles since their inception in 1993, the Marlins have yet to win a division crown. Atlanta has an eight-game lead in the NL East.

Florida scored four runs in the second, on an RBI double by Encarnacion and a two-run single by Juan Pierre, plus an error by catcher Jason Phillips. After Encarnacion’s double, Alex Gonzalez was intentionally walked to get to Pavano, who grounded out.

Pierre singled to right, scoring Mike Lowell, and Encarnacion was waved in behind him. Richard Hidalgo’s throw from right might have beaten him, but he scored easily when it squirted through Phillips’ legs. Pitcher Jae Seo and Phillips both started after the ball, and Gonzalez also came home as the crowd of 24,937 jeered.

Seo (4-8) was lifted for a pinch-hitter after throwing 93 pitches in five innings. He allowed five runs—four earned—on seven hits and three walks.

“There were a couple of calls the umpire didn’t give to me,” Seo said through a translator. “There were times when I felt I was pitching to two different guys calling balls and strikes back there.”

Wilson Delgado and Mike Piazza struck out to start the fourth before Cliff Floyd doubled and Hidalgo walked ahead of Wright’s drive to right.

Delgado’s RBI single in the fifth brought the Mets within a run. But the Marlins put together another four-inning in the eighth against Tyler Yates. Encarnacion hit a two-run homer and Easley hit a two-run double.

“The eighth inning was the dagger in our heart, so to speak,” Mets manager Art Howe said. “Yates just couldn’t get them out.”

Pinch-hitter Todd Zeile also homered off Manzanillo in the ninth.


Keppinger got his first major league steal in the seventh, swiping second. … Pierre has hit safely in 13 straight games. … Piazza hit into an inning-ending double play in the fifth. … The Mets stranded Floyd after a leadoff double in the sixth.

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