Perez pitches 8 innings to help Mets beat Marlins 7-2

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MIAMI (AP)—Hand-held noisemakers were the promotional giveaway Saturday at Dolphin Stadium, which allowed the many transplanted New Yorkers in the stands to create quite a din for their first-place Mets.

Buoyed by the support, the Mets strengthened their hold on the NL East by beating the Florida Marlins 7-2.

“It’s a great feeling when you go on the road and have so many fans pulling for you,” Mets slugger Carlos Beltran said.

The announced crowd was 22,517, with the majority rooting for the visitors, and they had plenty to cheer about. Oliver Perez pitched eight innings, Ramon Castro hit a three-run homer and Moises Alou extended his hitting streak to a team record-tying 26 games.

“We were in Miami,” losing pitcher Byung-Hyun Kim said, “but it felt like New York.”

Following a brief September swoon, the Mets won for the second time in 19 hours and increased their division lead to two games over Philadelphia, which played later at Washington. New York’s magic number to clinch division was seven with eight games to play.

“Sometimes when you get one win, it seems like three,” manager Willie Randolph said. “That’s the way it feels right now, because they’re all huge.”

Too bad for the Mets they play only one more game in Miami, where they’re 7-1 this year.

“It’s a good feeling when the Mets fans outnumber the Marlins fans,” New York third baseman David Wright said. “It’s kind of our home away from home.”

Alou singled leading off the ninth inning to match Wright’s team hitting-streak record set in 2006-07. Alou also tied Cleveland’s Casey Blake for the longest hitting streak in the majors this year.

Beltran was back in the lineup after leaving Friday’s game with a bruised left knee. He went 1-for-3 with two walks and scored a run. Wright went 3-for-5, stole two bases and scored twice.

Perez (15-9) gave up six hits, one walk and one earned run while striking out eight.

“That’s as good as it gets—an outstanding job of stepping up,” Randolph said. “It just goes to show, when Ollie is throwing strikes and trusts his stuff, how good a pitcher he can be.”

Aaron Heilman completed the seven-hitter, while closer Billy Wagner sat out for the third game in a row. Wagner has been sidelined by back spasms but said he was available Saturday.

“It’s the best I’ve felt in two or three days,” he said. “I’m pretty excited about it. We’ve turned the corner a little bit.”

The Mets can say the same: They’ve won three of four since a five-game losing streak.

Six of the Mets’ runs came with two out, and they made the most of their three hits off Kim (9-8). He allowed five runs in five innings.

The last-place Marlins, who committed a team-record six errors Friday, made another in the first inning to help New York take a 2-0 lead.

Jose Reyes led off with a double, took third on a sacrifice and scored on Wright’s single. Wright stole second, and with two out he came home when shortstop Hanley Ramirez made a bad throw on a grounder for his 23rd error.

New York needed only one hit to score three in the fourth. Beltran walked, Shawn Green was hit by a pitch and Castro hit a two-out homer—his 10th—for a 5-0 lead. Castro was in the lineup for Paul Lo Duca, who is 1-for-20 lifetime against Kim and took the day off.

The crowd chanted “Let’s go Mets!” as Carlos Delgado walked with the bases loaded to put New York ahead 6-1 in the seventh. Luis Castillo’s two-out infield single scored a run in the eighth.

Said Florida manager Fredi Gonzalez: “At least we got some people in the stands.”


Marlins LF Josh Willingham sat out because of a stiff back and likely won’t play Sunday. … Kim struck out in the third and is 1-for-30 this year. … 3B Wright robbed Cabrera of a hit with a backhand stop and one-hop throw from four steps into foul territory in the sixth.

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