Marlins 3, Mets 0

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MIAMI (AP)—The postseason is nearing and the stakes are rising, which is when Josh Beckett and the Florida Marlins are at their best.

Beckett pitched eight innings and blanked the New York Mets for his second start in a row Wednesday, and the defending World Series champions matched a franchise record with their ninth consecutive victory, 3-0.

“It’s a good night for all of us,” Beckett said. “It doesn’t matter who gets the win. We’ve just got to keep winning.”

The Mets have lost 11 in a row, including six since last week to Florida, and haven’t had a lead in 58 innings.

Paul Lo Duca hit a two-run homer for the Marlins, who beat New York for the 10th straight time, a franchise record for Florida against any opponent.

“They’re polar opposites from us,” Mets slugger Mike Piazza said.

The World Series MVP in 2003, Beckett (7-8) has struggled through an injury-plagued year, but he pitched a six-hit shutout against the Mets last week for the first regular-season complete game of his career. This time he allowed four hits, struck out nine and walked two.

Armando Benitez pitched a perfect ninth for his NL-leading 41st save, including 11 against the Mets, his former team.

The Marlins have thrown a major league-high 12 shutouts, including three during their winning streak. The only other time they won nine in a row was May 6-14, 1996.

They matched a season high by climbing 10 games over .500 for the first time since May 30. Florida still trails in the NL wild-card race, but only two games separate Houston, San Francisco, Chicago, the Marlins and San Diego.

Florida will go for a sweep Thursday against the Mets, then head to Wrigley Field for a crucial four-game series.

“It’s getting to be fun,” manager Jack McKeon said. “We’re used to this— coming from behind and no one giving us a chance. We know what we can do. We’ve done it before.”

While the Marlins are surging, the Mets are on their longest losing streak since dropping 12 in a row from Aug. 10-23, 2002.

“Everyone is dumbfounded by this,” Piazza said. “I’ve never been through anything like this, not in the majors, minors or anywhere. We can’t get anything going. If we get guys on base, we can’t get them in. If we score some runs, the other team scores more.”

Beckett, pitching on seven days’ rest because Hurricane Frances disrupted the Marlins’ schedule, escaped two-on, none-out jams in the fifth and sixth innings.

But the right-hander drew the wrath of McKeon with a baserunning blunder in the sixth. After hustling to reach second on a throwing error, Beckett advanced only to third on Juan Pierre’s two-out single, even though he was waved home by third-base coach Jeff Cox and would’ve scored easily.

McKeon shouted a profanity, and glared from his dugout seat when the inning ended with Beckett stranded and Florida still leading 3-0.

“That’s the fourth run—that’s a big run,” McKeon said. “I look up and he’s jogging back to third. Oh, well. It didn’t make any difference.”

Said Beckett: “It was my fault. I just wasn’t thinking right. Good thing it didn’t end up hurting us.”

Jae Seo (4-9) allowed three runs—two earned—in five innings and remained winless since June 29.

The Mets, who gave up two runs because of errors Tuesday, made another costly miscue to fall behind against Beckett. With two outs in the third, shortstop Wilson Delgado let a sharp grounder go through his legs for an error, allowing Alex Gonzalez to score from third.

“Not too long ago, we were thinking the breaks were just going to happen— and they weren’t,” Beckett said. “Now we’re forcing them to happen.”

The Mets trailed 1-0 when their first two batters reached in the fifth. But Beckett struck out Mike Cameron and Jason Phillips grounded into a double play.

Beckett pitched out of another jam with runners at second and third and none out in the sixth. He struck out Eric Valent and Delgado, then retired Cliff Floyd on a broken-bat grounder to end the inning.

“If he throws shutouts every night,” Pierre said, “we’ll forgive his baserunning.”


Pierre extended his hitting streak to 15 games. … The Marlins can still finish with 100 victories—if they win the rest of their games. … Mets manager Art Howe said Piazza and Floyd will be given Thursday off. Todd Zeile will play first and Valent will be in left.

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