Series: Game 1 of 4

Florida leads 1-0 (as of 7/4)

Game 1: Thursday, July 4
New York 7Final
Florida 9
Game 2: Friday, July 5
New York 5Final
Florida 3
Game 3: Saturday, July 6
New York 2Final
Florida 5
Game 4: Sunday, July 7
New York 9Final
Florida 3

Mets 7

(41-43, 20-25 away)

Marlins 9

(44-41, 25-19 home)

    6:05 PM ET, July 4, 2002

    Sun Life Stadium, Miami, Florida 

    123456789 R H E
    NYM 013100002 7 - -
    FLA 06000300 - 9 - -

    W: J. Tavarez (7-4)

    L: A. Leiter (8-7)

    Mets sent to sixth loss in last eight games

    MIAMI (AP) -- Al Leiter suddenly can't beat the Florida Marlins.

    Al Leiter

    Pinch-hitter Pablo Ozuna tripled to drive in two runs, and Florida defeated Leiter again with a 9-7 victory over the New York Mets on Thursday night.

    Leiter, hurt by an untimely error by third baseman Edgardo Alfonzo, lost to the Marlins for the third consecutive time after coming into the season with an 8-1 lifetime record against them.

    Leiter (8-7) gave up six runs -- one earned -- on eight hits in five innings, his shortest outing since working 4 2/3 innings in a loss to Florida on June 2.

    "My last bad start was here over a month ago,'' Leiter said. "When I left, I went out and had five real good starts. To come back here again and go through this, it's frustrating. If I get the opportunity to see them again this year, I'm obviously going to have to do something different.''

    After nearly blowing a 6-1 lead, Marlins starter Julian Tavarez settled down for his sixth win in his last nine starts.

    Mike Piazza hit his 18th homer of the year for the Mets, giving him three home runs in his last two games.

    The Mets finished with 14 hits, but it wasn't enough.

    Ozuna came through with the clutch hit as the Marlins scored three runs in the sixth to send the Mets to their sixth loss in eight games.

    With Florida leading 6-5 and runners on first and second, Ozuna hit his first triple to the gap in left-center for his first career RBIs. He scored on Luis Castillo's groundout to make it 9-5.

    Timo Perez hit a two-run double in the ninth for the Mets to cut it to 9-7 before Vladimir Nunez struck out John Valentin with runners at the corners to end it.

    "It's nice to have a cushion like that at the end,'' Florida manager Jeff Torborg said. "Once again, though, we made this one awfully interesting.''

    Tavarez (7-4) allowed five runs on nine hits in six innings to earn his second straight win against the Mets.

    "To his credit, he settled down, but he couldn't find the plate for a while,'' Torborg said.

    The Mets took a 1-0 lead in the second on Roger Cedeno's RBI single. Then came the bottom half, when Leiter threw 42 pitches.

    The Marlins scored five unearned runs after Alfonzo's throwing error.

    Preston Wilson's run-scoring single in the bottom half tied it, and Wilson scored when Alfonzo threw wide to first on Charles Johnson's grounder.

    Castillo's two-out RBI single made it 3-1, and Andy Fox doubled home another run. Mike Lowell's RBI single scored Fox, and Cliff Floyd drove in Lowell with a double for the sixth run of the inning.

    "That ball sailed on him as it went across the infield,'' Mets manager Bobby Valentine said. "We just couldn't get that elusive out in that inning, and they kept piling on the runs.''

    The Mets answered with three in the third to pull to 6-4. Perez hit an RBI single, and Piazza smashed a 1-2 pitch over the wall in left for a two-run homer.

    Roberto Alomar's RBI single in the fourth drew the Mets to 6-5.

    After losing two of three last weekend at Tampa Bay, the Marlins have won three of four since returning home.

    "We're back to running the bases and doing the little things. We're executing better since we've been home,'' Torborg said.

    Game notes

    The start was delayed 1 hour, 17 minutes because of rain. ... The Marlins lead the majors with 102 steals. Castillo stole two bases to give him 29 this season. ... Alfonzo was hit in the head by Tavarez's pitch in the third. He played one more inning before leaving with a bruise. He is day-to-day. ... Wilson has hit safely in eight of his last nine games against the Mets and has 10 RBIs in his last 14 games against them. ... Perez robbed Lowell of a base hit in the fifth, charging in from center to make a diving catch.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press