NEW YORK (AP)—Willie Randolph kept his job—for now. Meanwhile, the New York Mets kept losing.
After their embattled manager had a much-anticipated meeting with ownership Monday, the Mets got another ineffective outing from Mike Pelfrey and fizzled on offense following a strong start in a 7-3 loss to the Florida Marlins.
“A lot of stuff was taken care of,” Randolph said, describing his entire day. “Now, we move on and try to win some ballgames.”
Luis Gonzalez hit a three-run double for the young and hungry Marlins (30-20), who moved 10 games over .500 for the first time since Sept. 14, 2005. They lead the NL East despite a major league-low payroll of $22 million on opening day.
Jose Reyes homered twice for the $138 million Mets but committed a two-out error at shortstop in the first that led to two unearned runs.
Pelfrey (2-6) lasted only four innings and dropped his sixth straight start as fourth-place New York (23-26) fell three games below .500 for the first time since Sept. 18, 2005, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
The Mets have lost seven of eight and 10 of 14 overall. With few fans remaining at Shea Stadium in the late innings, a chant of “Fire Willie!” could clearly be heard.
“It’s like being booed,” Randolph said. “It’s the same thing more or less. They’re expressing themselves.”
Earlier in the day, Randolph sat down with owner Fred Wilpon and his son, Jeff, the club’s chief operating officer, as well as general manager Omar Minaya to discuss two things: the team’s sluggish play, and Randolph’s comments last week about his portrayal on Mets broadcasts in which he raised the issue of race.
Randolph subsequently apologized for those statements.
“Willie’s job was never in danger going into this meeting,” Minaya said. “Willie has my support. He has the support of our ownership. … There is no limbo period. Willie is the manager.”
So, was he told he’ll definitely manage the Mets for the rest of the season?
“No, they didn’t say that,” Randolph answered.
Randolph then met with his players after batting practice, but it didn’t help on the field. After the game, he said he was glad the day was behind him.
“It was nice that Omar and the front office backed him up and hopefully that will settle down some of the distractions and all the speculation,” Mets first baseman Carlos Delgado said.
Coming off a doubleheader sweep of San Francisco on Sunday, the Marlins made their first trip to Shea Stadium since knocking New York out of playoff contention on the final day of last season.
Florida looked like the better team on this day, too.
“They have a lot of distractions going on for that ballclub right now, and scoring those runs early was very nice,” Gonzalez said. “Going from here to Philly and from Philly to Atlanta, it’s an opportunity for us to show that we are a serious contender.”
The Mets stranded seven runners through the first five innings before Doug Waechter, Renyel Pinto and Joe Nelson combined for four innings of perfect relief. Florida pitchers retired their final 15 batters.
Pelfrey retired his first two hitters before Reyes botched Jorge Cantu’s one-hop grounder. Ex-Met Mike Jacobs followed with a broken-bat double that scored Cantu, and streaking Dan Uggla added an RBI double.
The Mets came right back in the bottom half with four consecutive hits. Reyes hit his 11th leadoff homer, extending his team record, and New York loaded the bases with none out. Delgado hit a shallow sacrifice fly to tie it, but that was all New York got.
Reyes homered to right again in the second for a 3-2 lead before Florida batted around against Pelfrey in the third.
The right-hander loaded the bases with two outs on a single, a walk and a hit by pitch before Gonzalez hit a sinking liner to center that got past a sliding Carlos Beltran for a three-run double.
“They were playing deep. Obviously, they respect the power,” Gonzalez said. “I got a fastball in. I was able to get enough wood on it and I had good pin placement on it.”
Gonzalez’s double was his 578th, tying Hall of Famer Wade Boggs for 17th on the career list. … It was Reyes’ fifth multihomer game and first this season. … Mets RF Ryan Church missed his sixth straight start with a concussion. He grounded out as a pinch hitter and said he would see a neurologist Tuesday.