Florida (5-6) at New York (6-5)

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  • Game info: 1:10 pm EDT Sun Apr 17, 2005
  • TV: WPXM, WPIX
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It’s safe to say that the New York Mets’ miserable start is behind them.

Looking nothing like the team that stumbled its way to an 0-5 start, the Mets shoot for their seventh straight win as they close out a three-game series with the Florida Marlins at Shea Stadium.

On Saturday, Ramon Castro singled home the winning run with two out in the ninth inning as the Mets overcame another blown save by Braden Looper to pull out a 4-3 win over Florida.

“That’s what we want to do every day, keep fighting back. That’s what good teams do,” Mets manager Willie Randolph said.

Trying to protect a one-run lead, Looper gave up three hits in the ninth, including Juan Encarnacion’s tying double with two out, for his second blown save in three chances this year.

On opening day, Looper squandered a two-run lead in Cincinnati, allowing two ninth-inning homers as the Mets lost 7-6.

In Saturday’s win, Pedro Martinez struck out nine in a stellar home debut for New York, but the Mets’ new ace was outpitched by their old one, Al Leiter.

The left-hander allowed only three hits in seven innings.

“They never got away from us and we never quit,” Martinez said. “I’m very glad I signed to pitch here and I’m able to give the fans what they expected.”

A win Sunday will give the Mets their first seven-game winning streak since Sept. 4-9, 2002. The Mets are just the second team ever to begin a season with a losing streak of five or more games and then reach .500 in the equal number of games. The 1991 Mariners lost their first six games, then won eight straight.

New York outfielder Cliff Floyd missed his fourth consecutive start Saturday with a strained rib muscle, while second baseman Kaz Matsui was not in the lineup for the third game in a row with a scratched cornea. Matsui pinch-hit in the eighth and dropped down a successful sacrifice bunt.

The Mets might have a hard time extending their streak if Florida starter A.J. Burnett performs as he did in his last outing.

In an 8-2 win over Philadelphia on Tuesday, Burnett pitched his 11th career complete game, allowing two runs and eight hits. Burnett, who has averaged more than four walks per nine innings during his career, didn’t walk a batter.

“How about that?” he said. “It’s different, but I’ll take it.”

Burnett hasn’t had much success against the Mets, the team that drafted him 1995. In 12 starts against New York, Burnett is 1-5 with a 3.98 ERA.

STANDINGS (through April 15): Marlins - 3rd place (tied), 1 GB, NL East. Mets - 3rd place (tied), 1 GB, NL East.

MARLINS PROBABLE STARTER: Burnett (1-1, 2.40 ERA). Over his seven-year career, Burnett is 14-25 on the road with a 4.43 ERA.

METS PROBABLE STARTER: Tom Glavine (0-1, 5.59 ERA). After allowing five runs and nine hits over 3 2-3 innings in a 9-5 loss to Cincinnati in his season debut, the veteran left-hander settled down in Monday’s 8-4 win over the Houston Astros. Over six innings, Glavine gave up one run and four hits, striking out six. He didn’t receive a decision. In 37 career starts against the Marlins, Glavine is 15-17 with a 3.85 ERA.

OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Marlins - Paul Lo Duca, .342 avg.; Miguel Cabrera, 3 HRs; Cabrera and Luis Castillo, 7 runs; Cabrera and Encarnarcion, 9 RBIs; Castillo and Juan Pierre, 2 SBs. Mets - Carlos Beltran, .306 avg. and 10 RBIs; avg.; Beltran, Floyd and David Wright, 2 HRs; Reyes, 9 runs and 3 SBs.

SEASON SERIES: Mets, 2-0.

STREAKS AND NOTES: Marlins - C Lo Duca has a hit in eight of nine games this season. … 2B Castillo is 23-for-64 (.359) career against LHP Glavine. … 3B Lowell is 1-for-14 in his last four games (.072). Mets - C Piazza is 4-for-29 (.138) career against RHP Burnett. … New York’s last six-game winning streak was in August 2003 . … OF Beltran is 8-for-16 in his last five games.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Marlins - 0-2 on the road; Mets - 5-0 at home.

INJURIES: Marlins - RHP Tim Spooneybarger (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Ismael Valdez (leg), 15-day DL. Mets - OF Floyd (rib muscle); INF Matsui (eye); OF Mike Cameron (wrist), 15-day DL; RHP Kris Benson (pectoral), 15-day DL; RHP Bartolome Fortunato (back), 15-day DL; RHP Steve Trachsel (back), 60-day DL; RHP Tyler Yates (rotator cuff), 60-day DL.

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Starting Pitchers

A. Burnett PIT vs. T. Glavine ATL
12-12 Record 13-13
3.44 ERA 3.53
198 K 105
79 BB 61
1.26 WHIP 1.36