Marlins beat Mets to tighten NL East race

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MIAMI (AP)—Even without Manny Ramirez, the Florida Marlins’ offense is pretty potent.

With talk heating up about Florida trading for Ramirez, the Marlins roughed up Mike Pelfrey and tightened the NL East race by beating the New York Mets 7-5 on Wednesday night.

Josh Willingham and Jeremy Hermida, both mentioned as part of a possible deal, had two hits apiece for Florida.

“You put that aside when you step between the white lines,” Hermida said. “I’ve still got a Marlins jersey on. It didn’t affect me whatsoever.”

Team president David Samson didn’t rule out the possibility of acquiring Ramirez from the Boston Red Sox. On his weekly radio show, Samson said “everything is possible.”

After the game, president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest—who conducts the team’s trade negotiations—had only one comment for reporters as he attempted to cut off questions about Ramirez.

“Talk about tonight’s game, guys,” Beinfest said.

OK: Josh Johnson pitched 6 2-3 innings for his first victory in almost two years, and Hermida and Cody Ross both tripled in a five-run fourth inning against Pelfrey (9-7), who lost for the first time in eight decisions.

The defeat knocked the Mets out of first place in the division. Philadelphia, which beat Washington 8-5, moved into first, a half-game in front of New York and 1 1/2 ahead of the Marlins.

The Marlins, who trailed 1-0, came from behind to win for the 32nd time, most in the NL. They overcame deficits during both victories in the three-game series.

Hermida started the hit parade in the fourth with a triple. One batter later, Jorge Cantu singled to tie the game 1-all.

Ross tripled two batters later on a two-out, 3-2 pitch to drive in Cantu and Willingham. John Baker added an RBI double, and Johnson also doubled home a run.

While the Marlins were batting around against Pelfrey in the fourth, the Ramirez rumors started heating up.

In the stadium, some fans were spotted with Manny signs, and the local television broadcast posed the question: Can Manny be Manny in South Florida?

Willingham, who went 2-for-3 and scored twice, said he didn’t worry about a possible trade once the game started.

“I thought about it until about 7:05, and once the game started I was locked in on the game,” Willingham said.

So was Johnson, who didn’t know when his last win was.

“Two years, wow,” Johnson said when a reporter told him. “Time flies, I guess.”

Johnson (1-0) allowed eight hits and four runs in his fourth start since returning from reconstructive elbow surgery in August 2007. He last won on Aug. 28, 2006. The Marlins improved to 4-0 in his starts this year.

Pinch-hitter Damion Easley hit a three-run homer off Johnson in the seventh to cut the Mets’ deficit to 5-4, but Dan Uggla hit a two-run homer in the eighth for Florida.

It was the 84th career homer for Uggla, who broke the major league record for most home runs by a second baseman in his first three seasons. Joe Gordon hit 83 with the New York Yankees from 1938-40.

Kevin Gregg allowed three consecutive two-out singles in the ninth, the third by Ramon Castro to drive in a run. But Jose Reyes flied out, and Gregg earned his 23rd save in 29 chances.

Pelfrey threw 42 pitches in a 24-minute fourth inning. The four-inning outing equaled his shortest of the season. He allowed eight hits and five runs. The Mets had been unbeaten in his past nine starts.


Mets 3B David Wright went 0-for-4, and his team-record streak of scoring in 13 consecutive games ended. … Mets OF Ryan Church will begin his rehabilitation stint with Class-A St. Lucie on Thursday. … The Marlins sent RHP Daniel Barone outright to Triple-A Albuquerque. … After the game, Florida optioned LHP Taylor Tankersley to Triple-A Albuquerque.

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