Marlins 5, Mets 2
Just don’t forget about Florida’s defense.
The Marlins made three great defensive plays and Willingham drove in a career-high five runs in a 5-2 victory over the New York Mets on Tuesday night.
“We played some great defense tonight,” said Nolasco, who came off the disabled list to pitch five effective innings. “Defense picked me up when I needed them to and this is how we’re going to win.
Willingham tripled with the bases loaded in the first inning and hit a two-run homer off Aaron Heilman in the eighth after the Mets pulled within one. Willingham narrowly missed two more homers, flying out to the warning track in center twice.
“It’s one of those things where it’s a combination of I feel good at the plate, I’m getting into good hitters counts a lot of times and getting good pitches to hit,” said Willingham, who is hitting .450 with 11 RBIs in his last five games. “If they make their pitches on the corners, obviously you don’t drive the ball.”
Nolasco was backed by solid defense, especially from center fielder Alfredo Amezaga. Carlos Beltran hit a long fly to center in the fourth, but Amezaga leaped high to catch the drive near the top of the wall.
“In the box score it’s not going to be noticed but for me he’s got to be up there with Willingham as far as heroes of the game,” manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “Those are two runs or maybe even possibly more runs that he saved us.”
The Marlins also turned an unusual double play when the Mets attempted a double steal with runners on first and third in the first inning. Carlos Delgado took a called third strike and shortstop Hanley Ramirez cut off catcher Miguel Olivo’s throw and threw back to the plate to get Jose Reyes.
Nolasco (1-0) allowed one run and six hits. He was 0-3 with a 19.73 ERA in four previous appearances against New York. He got his first road win since he beat Arizona on Aug. 13.
“You can’t put people on base for free because they’ll make you pay,” said Nolasco, who struck out five and walked none. “My perspective was just if they’re going to get on base I’m going to make them earn it.”
Lee Gardner, Kevin Gregg and Taylor Tankersley combined to allow one run in three innings of relief for Florida. With heavy rain falling, former Mets prospect Henry Owens pitched the ninth for his third save and second in two days.
David Wright snapped out of a slump with three hits for New York, including his first home run of the season. Wright was 4-for-35 (.114) in his previous 10 games, including stranding six runners in an 0-for-5 performance in the series opener.
“The biggest thing is I felt relaxed,” Wright said.
Florida took advantage of Mike Pelfrey’s control problems in the first inning. Pelfrey hit Dan Uggla with a pitch with one out and issued back-to-back walks to Miguel Cabrera and Mike Jacobs to load the bases.
Willingham then sliced a first-pitch fastball into the right-field corner to give the Marlins a 3-0 lead. He was stranded at third when Pelfrey struck out Joe Borchard and got Olivo to pop out.
That was all Florida could manage against Pelfrey (0-3), who allowed five hits and struck out three in 6 1-3 innings. The right-hander had struggled in his previous two starts, giving up 10 runs and 14 hits in eight innings.
“Pelfrey threw the ball well after he settled down,” Mets manager Willie Randolph said. “He showed me something.”
Delgado also had an encouraging day for New York, going 2-for-4 with an RBI single. He was 6-for-42 (.143) in his previous 10 games.
RHP Nate Field was designated for assignment to make room on the roster for Nolasco, who went on the DL on April 9 (retroactive to April 7) with right elbow inflammation. … Mets LF Moises Alou had MRI exams on his irritated right shoulder and arthritic left knee and said everything checked out. Randolph said Alou will probably get a day off Wednesday. … Randolph will be the keynote speaker at Fordham’s commencement ceremony on May 19. He also will receive an honorary doctorate of humane letters. His daughter, Ciara, will be among the graduating seniors. “Just call me Doc, Doctor Willo,” a grinning Randolph said. … Marlins RHP Sergio Mitre (blister) is expected to come off the DL in time to start Saturday against San Diego.