Series: Game 2 of 2

Series tied 1-1 (as of 8/28)

Game 1: Tuesday, August 27
New York 10Final
Florida 5
Game 2: Wednesday, August 28
New York 3Final
Florida 7

Mets 3

(61-70, 31-36 away)

Marlins 7

(64-68, 39-29 home)

    7:05 PM ET, August 28, 2002

    Sun Life Stadium, Miami, Florida 

    123456789 R H E
    NYM 010110000 3 - -
    FLA 01020202 - 7 - -

    W: A. Almanza (3-2)

    L: S. Strickland (6-8)

    Johnson shakes slump with three RBI

    MIAMI (AP) -- A long season for Charles Johnson and the Florida Marlins could now come to a premature end. If so, they finished with a flourish.

    Johnson drove in three runs Wednesday night, and six Florida pitchers helped beat the New York Mets 7-3 in perhaps the final game of the season for both teams.

    "You don't want to think that way, but it could be,'' said Johnson, the Marlins' player representative. "Who knows? We still feel there's a chance to play Friday.''

    The strike deadline is Friday, and both teams have Thursday off. If the labor dispute is resolved, the Marlins will play at home Friday against Pittsburgh, and the Mets will play host to Philadelphia.

    New York and Florida had hoped to contend for a playoff berth, but should the season end Friday, the Mets will finish last in the NL East, 2 games behind the Marlins.

    Johnson briefed teammates and the media on the status of negotiations before the game, then led the Marlins to victory. His sacrifice fly put Florida ahead 3-2 in the fourth, and he added a two-run double in the eighth.

    "It has been a tough year for me,'' said Johnson, an All-Star in 2001 who is batting just .217. "It was a good day for me. It's very exciting for me to help the ballclub.''

    A crowd of 6,909 broke into occasional chants of "Let's go Mets,'' but it was the home team earning cheers at the finish. Juan Encarnacion hit his 21st homer for Florida, and Armando Almanza (3-2) earned the victory by facing only one batter -- Roberto Alomar.

    Almanza entered with the score 3-3 and the bases loaded in the sixth. He pitched out of the jam with help from shortstop Mike Mordecai, who made an acrobatic stop, pivot and throw to start a double play to end the inning.

    Florida's bullpen retired the final 10 batters. Vladimir Nunez pitched two perfect innings, striking out the side in the eighth, and Braden Looper followed with a 1-2-3 ninth.

    Mets first baseman Mo Vaughn said the possibility they were playing their final game was tough to think about at the finish.

    "A lot of things go through your mind,'' Vaughn said. "The main thing is to not jump to any conclusions. Everybody should stay around and be ready to play soon.''

    Florida scored twice in the sixth against Scott Strickland (6-8) to take a 5-3 lead. Derrek Lee led off with a triple. Mike Lowell was intentionally walked with one out, and Andy Fox's two-out pinch-hit bloop single broke the tie.

    "It wasn't the prettiest hit I ever had, but I'm glad it fell in,'' Fox said.

    Fox then stole second as catcher Vance Wilson let the pitch get away for a passed ball, allowing Lowell to score from third with an unearned run.

    Fox said the game didn't seem like a season finale.

    "I think we're going to play Friday,'' he said. "Everybody on the team is pretty optimistic. I didn't see anybody packing, and I think that's a good sign.''

    Carl Pavano failed again in a bid for his first win since being acquired by the Marlins on July 11. He allowed seven hits in 4 2/3 innings and departed with the score 3-all.

    New York starter Mike Bacsik allowed six hits and three runs in five innings.

    "I got behind some hitters and threw them some very hittable pitches,'' Bacsik said. "I have to work deep in the game.''

    Florida's Kevin Millar and Preston Wilson hit back-to-back doubles off the top of the left-field scoreboard in the fourth to make it 2-all.

    Lee followed with a double, but Preston Wilson apparently thought the ball was going to be caught and advanced only to third. He scored anyway on Johnson's sacrifice fly.

    New York scored first when Edgardo Alfonzo doubled leading off the second and came home on Jeromy Burnitz's single.

    Vance Wilson's two-out RBI single in the fourth put the Mets ahead 2-1. Pavano then loaded the bases and fell behind Bacsik 3-1, but called strikes on the next two pitches got Florida out of the jam.

    Game notes

    Despite his double, Alfonzo is only 5-for-28 (.179) lifetime against Pavano. ... Luis Castillo, who singled in the third, has a hit in all 14 games against the Mets this season. ... Wilson has six of his 20 homers against the Mets, the most by any player against New York. ... Lowell, batting .181 since the All-Star break, was intentionally walked twice.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press