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Mets 4, Marlins 3

The SportsXchange

NEW YORK -- Marlon Byrd's two-run single down the third-base line with one out in the ninth inning on Sunday lifted the New York Mets to a come-from-behind 4-3 win over the Miami Marlins.

The ninth-inning meltdown by Marlins closer Steve Cishek cost rookie Jose Fernandez the win in what was an impressive major-league debut. Fernandez, the youngest pitcher in the majors, struck out eight and allowed one run, three hits and one walk in five innings.

The Mets had stranded a runner each in the sixth, seventh and eighth before Ruben Tejada started the winning rally by getting hit by a 2-and-2 pitch from Cishek. Kirk Nieuwenhuis followed by lacing a two-strike single to left and took second as Tejada beat the throw to third.

Byrd hit a 1-and-0 pitch just fair down the line past a diving Chris Valaika and Nieuwenhuis scored the winning run without a throw. The Mets stormed the field and mobbed Byrd between first and second base.

For the Mets, Daniel Murphy had two hits, including his second homer in three days, and Anthony Recker had an RBI double in his Mets debut.

Donovan Solano tied a career high with three hits for the Marlins, who finished with 13 hits but left 12 men on base. Greg Dobbs, Justin Ruggiano, Adeiny Hechavarria and Valaika all had two hits apiece.

Before Byrd's hit, the story of the game was Fernandez.

Marlins manager Mike Redmond said Sunday morning that he was looking forward to watching Fernandez and the 20-year-old -- the youngest pitcher in Marlins history and the second-youngest player to make an Opening Day roster this year behind only Bryce Harper -- didn't disappoint in an electric outing at cold and blustery Citi Field.

At 1:23 p.m., Fernandez walked out of the dugout and leaped over the third-base foul line. After his warm-up tosses, he exchanged a fist bump with Valaika before bending down, brushing the mound and making the sign of the cross.

His first pitch to Collin Cowgill was a called strike. Catcher Rob Brantly immediately tossed the ball into the dugout for safekeeping, as he did after Fernandez struck out Ike Davis leading off the second for his first big-league whiff.

Mixing a fastball that regularly hit 96 mph with a 79 mph curveball and 82 mph change-up, Fernandez allowed one run, three hits and one walk. He retired the first 10 batters he faced, struck out the side in the second and fanned two batters apiece in the fourth and fifth.

His eight strikeouts were the most by a Marlins pitcher in his big-league debut and the most by a pitcher making his debut against the Mets since the Rockies' Jason Jennings struck out eight on Aug. 23, 2001.

Perhaps the most impressive thing of all was his efficiency: Fernandez threw just 80 pitches, including 53 strikes, in five innings. Mets starter Aaron Laffey threw 90 pitches in 4 1/3 innings.

Fernandez even contributed with the bat by laying down a perfect sacrifice bunt in the fourth that led to the Marlins' third and decisive run.

Laffey gave up all three runs and a career-high 10 hits along with a walk and five strikeouts.

He managed to strand two base runners apiece in the first and second before the Marlins broke through in the third when Ruggiano laced a two-out double to score Dobbs and in the fourth when Valaika and Solano each delivered RBI doubles.

Prior to Ruggiano's double, the Marlins' last 18 hits had all been singles dating to his ninth-inning single on Friday.

The Mets were a bit more successful against Fernandez on his second turn through the order and scored in the fifth when Ruben Tejada singled and came home on Recker's double.

Murphy homered off A.J. Ramos leading off the sixth.

NOTES: To make room for Laffey on the active and 40-man rosters, the Mets optioned pitcher Jeurys Familia to triple-A Las Vegas and transferred Johan Santana to the 60-day disabled list. Familia struggled in his lone outing of the season Thursday, when he gave up one run on one hit and one walk and uncorked the wild pitch that allowed the eventual decisive run to score in the Mets' 2-1 loss to the Padres. Santana won't pitch this season after tearing the anterior capsule in his left shoulder for the second time. He had surgery Tuesday. ... Laffey, who made 11 appearances for the Yankees in 2011, became the 115th player to play for both the Mets and Yankees. ... The Mets last opened a season with consecutive series wins in 2006, when they won two of three from the Nationals at Shea before sweeping a two-game set from the Marlins. ... Marlins catcher Jeff Mathis, who suffered a broken collarbone during an exhibition game on Feb. 23, played catch from 45 feet Saturday. He's expected to be out until early May. ... Marlins pitcher Henderson Alvarez, who is on the 15-day disabled list with right shoulder inflammation, played catch Saturday. Redmond said Alvarez could throw in the bullpen by the end of the week. ... Redmond said he hoped that Marlins first baseman Logan Morrison, who is on the 60-day disabled list as he recovers from fall surgery to repair a torn right patellar tendon, will be able to start running soon. Morrison is already taking grounders and participating in batting practice.
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