Marlins 6, Mets 3
Willis hit two home runs and pitched into the ninth inning to lead the Marlins over the New York Mets 6-3 Wednesday night.
Willis also pulled a run-scoring single into right field in Florida’s three-run sixth. Matt Treanor’s RBI double put the Marlins in front 2-1 before Willis drove him in with a base hit and Hanley Ramirez added a run-scoring groundout.
Willis rounded the bases quickly after each of his homers and said he “just swung,” when asked about the two drives in his first career multihomer game. He was happy to be left in the on-deck circle in the top of the ninth, saying he might have been hit by a pitch if he went to the plate.
“It’s just a game,” he said. “The only thing now is people are going to be expecting me to hit home runs every time I get up and it’s not my game, it’s not my game at all.”
Willis’ strong effort helped Florida snap a four-game losing streak and kept alive its dwindling hopes playoff hopes. The Marlins are four games back of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Philadelphia, the NL wild-card co-leaders, with 10 games left.
“Obviously, Dontrelle, with his bat and his arm, he did everything tonight,” Florida manager Joe Girardi said.
New York’s only concern right now is keeping healthy and getting some rest ahead of the postseason. The Mets beat Florida 4-0 Monday night to clinch the NL East title, becoming the first team in the majors to qualify for the playoffs.
Willis (12-11) has won three straight starts for the first time this season. He allowed three runs and seven hits to improve to 3-1 against the Mets this season and 11-2 with a 2.02 ERA in his career. The left-hander is 5-1 with a no-decision in his last seven starts overall.
“He’s a strong kid and for some reason he gets up for us,” Mets manager Willie Randolph said. “I thought he started out kind of slow, I thought we were going to jump on him early. Once he gets into a groove, he’s tough.”
Willis’ three homers this season have all come at Shea Stadium. He also hit a grand slam in Florida’s 7-3 win over New York on July 7.
Borowski joked afterward that he’d been giving Willis hitting tips, and that was the reason for his big night.
“He was like a regular position player at the bat,” Borowski said. “Unbelievable.”
Paul Lo Duca, who finished with three hits for the Mets, doubled in a run and scored in the sixth to cut it to 4-3. But Willis hit his second homer of the game in the eighth and Ramirez scored from second on Roberto Hernandez’s wild pitch to restore Florida’s three-run lead.
Randy Wolf was the last major league pitcher to hit two homers in a game, doing it for Philadelphia against Colorado on Aug. 11, 2004, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Oliver Perez (3-12) shut out the Marlins over the first four innings before running into trouble in the fifth and sixth. He was charged with three runs and five hits over 5 1-3 innings.
Perez got Alfredo Amezaga to fly out with runners on second and third to end the fourth, but Willis hit his first pitch in the fifth over the wall in right-center to tie it at 1. Willis raised his right arm in the air as the ball went out and the crowd booed as he finished rounding the bases.
“When I hit, they always tell me, ‘Take the first pitch,”’ Perez said. “I was thinking he was going to take the first pitch, but he hit it.”
Outfielders Carlos Beltran and Cliff Floyd were out of the starting lineup again for the Mets. Randolph sent out a lineup full of reserves Tuesday night but put most of his regulars back in for the third of four straight games against the Marlins.
Florida 3B Miguel Cabrera was scratched from the starting lineup with a sore left shoulder. Wes Helms moved from 1B to 3B and Mike Jacobs was inserted to play 1B. Florida also shuffled its lineup, with three players moving up a spot in the order to make room for Jacobs, who batted sixth. … Mets RHP Pedro Martinez is slated to start Thursday night against Florida in his first outing since he was nearly in tears following three innings against Pittsburgh. Martinez faced the Pirates on Friday night in his first start in more than a month, allowed four runs, and sat in the dugout afterward with his head in his hands. He had been on the DL because of a strained right calf since Aug. 14. … Willis has six career homers.