The Marlins go for their first sweep of the New York Mets in nearly three years when the NL East rivals wrap up their three-game series at Shea Stadium on Wednesday.
Willingham knocked in a career-high five runs Tuesday, providing all of Florida’s offense in a 5-2 win. The Marlins (13-13), who have won seven of their last 10 games after a 1-8 slide, are in position for their first sweep of the Mets since taking four games at Shea from Aug. 30-Sept. 2, 2004.
Florida leads the majors with 148 runs scored.
Willingham, who went 2-for-4 with two RBIs in Monday’s series-opening 9-6 win, is hitting .450 (9-for-20) with two homers, three doubles and 11 RBIs in his last five games.
“It’s one of those things where it’s a combination of I feel good at the plate, I’m getting into good hitters counts a lot of times and getting good pitches to hit,” said Willingham, who drove in his runs Tuesday with a bases-loaded triple and a two-run homer. “If they make their pitches on the corners, obviously you don’t drive the ball.”
The Marlins also played a strong defensive game. Manager Fredi Gonzalez was especially pleased with the play of center fielder Alfredo Amezaga, who caught a Carlos Beltran drive near the top of the wall in the fourth inning before ending the frame by throwing out Carlos Delgado at the plate.
“In the box score it’s not going to be noticed, but for me he’s got to be up there with Willingham as far as heroes of the game,” Gonzalez said. “Those are two runs or maybe even possibly more runs that he saved us.”
David Wright went 3-for-4 and hit his first homer for the Mets (15-10), who have dropped four of their last six. The third baseman had hit just .114 (4-for-35) in his previous 10 games and stranded six runners while going 0-for-5 on Monday.
“The biggest thing is I felt relaxed,” Wright said.
Carlos Delgado went 2-for-4 with an RBI after hitting just .137 (7-for-51) in his previous 12 contests. Left fielder Moises Alou played after an MRI exam on his injured shoulder found no structural damage, but manager Willie Randolph said he will likely get a day off Wednesday.
Oliver Perez (2-2, 3.86 ERA) will take the mound for New York in the series finale after allowing four runs in seven innings of Friday’s 4-3 loss at Washington. The left-hander has struck out nine batters in each of his last two starts, including a 7-2 win over Atlanta on April 21, while walking none.
“He did a great job of regrouping; probably the biggest thing was no walks,” Randolph told the Mets’ team Web site of Perez, who allowed a three-run homer in the first inning Friday. “He showed me something by not bending and coming back strong.”
Perez is 1-2 with a 5.46 ERA in six career starts against the Marlins, who will counter with Anibal Sanchez (2-0, 4.39).
Sanchez allowed three runs and nine hits in five innings without receiving a decision in the Marlins’ 6-5 loss at Philadelphia on Friday. The 23-year-old right-hander, who is 12-3 since making his major league debut on June 25 last season, has lasted only five innings in each of his last three starts.
Sanchez won both of his previous starts against the Mets, each of which came in September, giving up four earned runs in 14 total innings for a 2.57 ERA.