MIAMI -- The Mets beat the Marlins 5-1 on Sunday afternoon for their seventh win in eight games. Jason Bay enjoyed his best day of the year, going 2-for-4 and driving in four runs with a first-inning grand slam.
WHAT IT MEANS: The Mets moved within six games of .500 (64-70), earning their first sweep since they took three straight from the Orioles June 18-20. The Mets also swept the Marlins in April but had not swept them on the road since 2007.
HOT STRETCH FOR BULLPEN: The Mets’ pen had its scoreless streak of 16 1/3 innings snapped Saturday. But on Sunday, the pen bounced back with four scoreless frames. The relievers have now allowed just one earned run in the past 22 1/3 innings.
For the season, though, the Mets’ pen is 15-25 with a 4.83 ERA, entering Sunday. The Mets are just 22-56 when their relievers allow a run.
NATURAL LIGHT: Entering Sunday, Daniel Murphy (.341) and David Wright (.341) were the top two day-game hitters in the National League. Of course, Wright went 0-for-4 on Sunday, and Murphy was rested. Still, with the win, the Mets are now 28-21 in day games.
STOPPING STANTON: Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton, who entered Sunday in second place in the National League with 29 home runs, was held in check by the Mets in the first two games of the series. He went 2-for-8, and his only RBI came on an infield single.
“Shhhhhh,” Collins said when the subject of Stanton was broached prior to Sunday’s game. “We’ve made some good pitches to him, but we don’t like it when he is in the batters’ box. He puts the fear of God in you. There is no telling how many homers he can hit if he ever gets 550 at-bats in a season.”
In the first inning on Sunday, Stanton struck out with runners on the corners and one out. In the third inning, with Jose Reyes at first and two out, Stanton struck out again. He led off the sixth with a groundout. In the eighth, with one runner on, Stanton struck out again to finish 0-4 with three Ks.
TRACKING HARVEY: Collins said Sunday that rookie starter Matt Harvey will start “two or three” more games before being shut down for the season.
LUTZ TIME: Collins said he will try to get rookie Zach Lutz a start in the next week, either at first or third base. He also said it’s possible Lutz could go to the instructional league in the offseason to learn to play a corner outfield spot, which would enhance his value and increase his chances of playing time in the majors.
In the seventh inning on Sunday, Lutz pinch-hit for reliever Bobby Parnell and grounded out to the pitcher.
LAST CHANCE: The Mets won 16 games in their final at-bat last season and have done it 12 times this year. However, of those 12, three have come in their past six games, a good sign that the team is still scrapping for wins and hasn’t given up.
HEFNER A KEEPER: Jeremy Hefner has allowed two runs or fewer in three of his past four starts. During that stretch, he has lowered his ERA from 5.52 to 4.52 and could figure in next year’s plans as a potential long reliever/spot starter.
PROSPECT WATCH: Collins said the Mets figure to give Jenrry Mejia some starts this month. Mejia is expected to get called up from Triple A Buffalo on Tuesday.
Fellow pitching prospect Zack Wheeler won’t get called up because the Mets don’t want to add to his innings total. But Wheeler, who pitched his last game of the season on Saturday for Buffalo, finished with a 12-8 record and a 3.26 ERA between Double-A and Triple-A. He had 148 strikeouts in 149 innings.
WHAT’S NEXT: Starting on Monday, the Mets play three at St. Louis, including two afternoon games. Rookie Collin McHugh will return to the team on Monday for his second start, pitching against the Cardinals’ Joe Kelly at 2:15 p.m. Rookie Matt Harvey will start Tuesday night at 8:15 against Jaime Garcia. And R.A. Dickey will chase his 18th win of the season Wednesday afternoon at 1:45 p.m. against Met-killer Adam Wainwright.