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Marlins edge Mets in 20-inning marathon

The SportsXchange

NEW YORK -- For Mike Redmond, Juan Pierre and Kevin Slowey, the second 20-inning game of their lives was a lot better than the first.

Slowey earned the win with seven scoreless innings of relief and Adeiny Hechavarria finally snapped a tie with an RBI single in the 20th inning as the Miami Marlins edged the New York Mets 2-1 in the longest game of the 2013 season.

It was the second 20-inning game in Marlins history. Redmond, now Miami's first-year manager, was the Marlins' starting catcher and Pierre the Marlins' starting center fielder in the Marlins' first 20-inning game, a 7-6 loss to the Cardinals on April 27, 2003.

"You play 20 innings, you want to win," said Redmond, who went 0-for-2 in the first 20-inning game. "You play 20 innings, you've got to win that game."

The Marlins finally did on Saturday, thanks in large part to a yeoman relief effort from Slowey, who was temporarily moved to the bullpen when his scheduled start Friday was rained out.

Slowey scattered eight hits and walked none. He's thrown at least seven innings in just three of his 12 starts this season and whiffed as many as eight batters once -- coincidentally, against the Mets on April 30.

His extended relief outing came a little more than seven years after he started a 20-inning game for Fort Myers, the Single-A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins. Slowey threw 6 1/3 innings for Fort Myers, which lost that game to Clearwater, 4-3, on April 13, 2006.

"I started that game and was out and showered and watched the next 15 innings, or whatever it was," Slowey said.

Slowey -- with his shoulder wrapped tightly and a bottle of vitamins in his hand -- was sporting a giant smile after serving as a far more active participant in Saturday's marathon.

The 2013 Marlins, who are an MLB-worst 17-44, probably aren't going to follow the path of the 2003 Marlins, who ended up winning the World Series, but Slowey believes Saturday's win will pay dividends in the future for one of youngest team in the major.

"I know the season's been tough for us, but this is a great win," Slowey said. "It's a great moment, where you see guys kind of grow up and keep persevering and finding a way to win a game. That's what we've been searching for a while, so it's good."

Losing such a game, of course, is no fun, as Pierre -- who started in left field Saturday and was 1-for-5 before he was lifted in a double-switch in the 10th inning -- remembered from his own experience with the Marlins a decade earlier. He was 3-for-9 in the loss to the Cardinals.

"They're not fun to play in, they're fun to win," Pierre said. "I've been on the other side, when you lose. Those guys, when you battle and you don't score runs and you're not getting hits and you've got a lot of 0-fers up there, that's no fun."

One of those players who had an 0-fer on the scoreboard, Placido Polanco, began the 20th-inning rally with a one-out single off the Mets' hard-luck loser, Shaun Marcum, who had retired 16 in a row dating back to the 15th.

Polanco (1-for-8) went to second on Rob Brantly's fourth single of the game and scored on Hechavarria's third single. The run was the first by either team since the fourth inning.

"You tend to try to do too much, you want to hit a home run and end the game," Polanco said. "I would say 90 percent, 80 percent of the time, you win it by putting together three or four hits like we did."

Steve Cishek, the eighth Marlins pitcher, needed just seven pitches to earn his sixth save and bring an end to an epic game that was, for most of the afternoon, not even the longest game played on Saturday. The Rangers-Blue Jays game in Toronto went 18 innings before the Jays finally won, 4-3.

"We were in the dugout looking up and saying 'We're chasing 'em down,'" Slowey said with a grin.

The Mets-Marlins game lasted six hours and 25 minutes and required 16 pitchers, 41 players and 561 pitches to complete. The only position player who didn't get into the game was Marlins backup catcher Jeff Mathis.

The Mets (23-34) played at least 20 innings for the fifth time in their 52-season history and the first time since a 2-1 win over the Cardinals on April 17, 2010, -- the most recent game in the majors before Saturday to last 20 innings.

The Mets were a franchise-worst 0-for-19 with runners in scoring position, shattering the previous worst of 0-for-15 set twice earlier. They left 22 runners on base, including two apiece in the eighth, ninth, 10th, 13th, 14th and 18th innings.

"We're just not doing the things that got a lot of us to the big leagues," Mets manager Terry Collins said.

The Mets had their best chance to win in the 12th, when Daniel Murphy was thrown out trying to score on Marlon Byrd's fly out to right. The throw from Marcell Ozuna beat Murphy by a couple of steps and he barreled into catcher Brantly, who held on to the ball.

Marcum, who also lost a start because of rainouts this week, allowed five hits while striking out seven over a season-high eight innings, the most by a Met in relief since Gerald Cram threw eight innings in the longest game in franchise history, a 4-3, 25-inning loss to the Cardinals on Sept. 11, 1974.

"Absolutely unbelievable," Collins said. "Certainly gave us every opportunity to win a baseball game that we couldn't [win]."

NOTES: Mets starter Matt Harvey was pulled after his warm-up pitches in the eighth inning due to lower back stiffness. "My goodness gracious, if there's anybody right now we don't need hurt, it's Matt Harvey," said Collins, who didn't speculate on Harvey's availability for his next scheduled start Friday against the Cubs. ... Prior to the game, the Mets recalled right-handed reliever David Aardsma from Triple-A Las Vegas and optioned right-handed pitcher Collin McHugh to Vegas. ... Marlins right-handed pitcher Nathan Eovaldi, who has been out all year with shoulder inflammation, is scheduled to make a rehab start for Double-A Jacksonville on Sunday. ... The Marlins expect first baseman Logan Morrison to come off the disabled list on Monday.
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