Mets 7, Marlins 4, 11 innings

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MIAMI (AP)—The New York Mets aren’t sitting back on their big lead.

Paul Lo Duca had three RBIs, Jose Reyes had three hits and Carlos Delgado delivered a game-tying, two-out single in the ninth inning as the Mets beat the Florida Marlins 7-4 on Wednesday night—trimming New York’s magic number for winning the NL East to two.

“We don’t want to get too crazy about tomorrow or the next day,” Delgado said. “We want to continue to play hard and keep our intensity level high and look forward to playing in the playoffs.”

The Mets could have clinched the title with a win and Atlanta sweeping a doubleheader from Philadelphia. The Braves didn’t come through, so the victory cigar manager Willie Randolph had on his desk is off to Pittsburgh, where the Mets open a series Friday. Pedro Martinez is set to make his first start since Aug. 14 then.

“These guys can feel it, smell it,” Randolph said. “Tonight we took care of our own business. This is a collective group that wants to win badly. Hopefully we’ll get it done this weekend. It would be nice to sip some champagne, smoke a cigar.”

Josh Willingham homered for the third straight game and Scott Olsen allowed six hits in eight innings for Florida, which has lost two straight and fell to fourth in the NL wild-card standings—three games back of San Diego, a 10-0 winner in Cincinnati.

The Marlins open a 10-game road trip in Atlanta on Friday.

“We’re not dead. Two tough losses,” Marlins manager Joe Girardi said. “We need a good road trip. There’s no secret. We need a really good road trip, but we’re not dead.”

No, but they are a team that could have used a late-game dose of luck— which never came.

— Delgado’s ninth-inning grounder could have ended the game and given the Marlins a win, but it skipped off the upper body of a diving Miguel Cabrera, enabling David Wright to score the tying run.

Jose Valentin, who scored the eventual winning run in the 11th, reached when his liner down the right-field line skimmed off the top of Wes Helms’ glove, as the first baseman’s leap was about two inches shy of what he needed.

— A possible inning-ending double-play went awry later in the 11th, when Dan Uggla couldn’t field Ricky Ledee’s grounder cleanly. That opened the floodgates; Valentin scored on Miguel Olivo’s passed ball, Reyes singled to Hanley Ramirez and the Marlins shortstop threw the ball into the Mets’ dugout in a failed effort to get Ledee out. Ledee came home, and Lo Duca’s second hit scored Reyes with the final run.

“It was very strange,” said Marlins closer Joe Borowski, who allowed Delgado’s single and blew his seventh save in 40 chances. “Just seemed like somebody was helping them. That’s what it felt like, late in the game.”

It was the second straight night Delgado tied the game late; his three-run, eighth-inning homer helped the Mets rally Tuesday for a 6-4 win. Aaron Heilman (4-4) got the win after throwing two hitless innings, and Billy Wagner got his 38th save in 43 chances.

“We know that baseball is a crazy game,” Delgado said. “We take it any way that we can.”

Matt Herges (1-3) allowed four hits and three runs—only one earned—in 1 2-3 innings for Florida. He gave up Valentin’s one-out double off Helms’ glove, the hit that got the Mets rolling.

“We’re two inches away from getting Delgado out,” Girardi said. “That’s baseball. Sometimes two inches is a lot in the game of baseball.”

Willingham—who was 8-for-13 with three home runs and six RBIs in the series—connected on a 3-2 pitch from Tom Glavine for his 25th homer in the sixth inning, a high fly to left that snuck over the out-of-town scoreboard. It brought home Uggla, who led off with a single two batters earlier.

That was a temporary momentum shift for Florida, which lost a 2-0 lead when the Mets scored three a half-inning earlier. Lo Duca’s two-run double allowed Glavine and Reyes to score, tying the game, and Lo Duca scored three batters later on Julio Franco’s single.

Glavine allowed six hits and four runs in six innings.


The first 10 flyouts of the game went to right field, including two where New York right fielder Lastings Milledge made stellar diving catches; one robbed Ramirez, the other took a hit from Cody Ross. Not to be outdone, Florida right fielder Joe Borchard took a hit away from Cliff Floyd in the seventh on a sliding grab of a sinking liner. … The Mets have lost only 11 of 47 series.

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