MIAMI (AP) -- The offense finally awoke for the New York Mets.
This time, their defense was caught napping.
A pair of errors led to four unearned runs for Florida, and
Miguel Cabrera homered and drove in four to help the Marlins beat
the Mets 8-6 on Sunday.
New York battled back twice from three-run deficits to tie it,
but Mike Lowell's tiebreaking double in the seventh put the Marlins
-- who moved to an NL-best 30-20 -- ahead for good.
"It ain't exactly how you draw it up," said center fielder
Juan Pierre, who was 2-for-4 and scored the go-ahead run. "We'll
take that victory. ... None of these victories are easy, but these
are the ones that count and won't put as much pressure on you late
in the season."
The Marlins finished a three-game sweep and won for the ninth
time in 11 games, but lost right-hander Josh Beckett, who left
after 2 2-3 innings with a blister on the middle finger of his
Beckett will be placed on the 15-day disabled list Monday. Other
blister problems sent last year's World Series MVP to the disabled
list three times in the 2002 season.
Alex Gonzalez hit his fourth home run for Florida.
Jason Phillips homered twice for the Mets, the first multihomer
game of his career. Ty Wigginton homered for the second straight
day, and Karim Garcia also hit one drove in a season-high three
RBI. The four total homers matched a season high for the Mets, yet
they still fell to 1-9 in their last 10 against Florida.
"It doesn't matter what you do offensively if you're losing,"
Phillips said. "It's a tough loss for us."
A pair of two-out Mets errors led to Florida's four unearned
runs. The final miscue came in the seventh, when Pierre reached
after the throw from Mets shortstop Kaz Matsui pulled first baseman
Mike Piazza off the bag.
Lowell worked a 2-2 count against Mike Stanton (0-2). When
Pierre stole second off the left-hander, Mets manager Art Howe
elected to bring in David Weathers to replace Stanton -- and Lowell
sent the second pitch from Weathers to the base of the left-field
wall, giving Pierre plenty of time to score.
"I hit it well, but they were playing kind of deep," said
Lowell, who beat the Mets with a 10th-inning walkoff homer
Saturday. "It was very satisfying to get that hit."
It was Lowell's third hit in 13 career at-bats against Weathers.
"He's been effective with him historically, but not today,"
Gonzalez's homer in the eighth gave the Marlins an 8-6 lead, and
Armando Benitez pitched a perfect ninth against his former team for
his 20th save in 21 chances. Toby Borland (1-0), the fourth of six
Florida pitchers, got the win despite allowing the Mets to pull
into a 6-6 tie with two runs in the seventh.
Cabrera's two-run double highlighted a three-run first for
Florida, but the Mets -- who managed only three runs in the first 21
innings of the series -- matched that output in the third.
Matsui led off with a single and Garcia, who hadn't homered in
51 at-bats, connected for a two-run homer, bringing the Mets to 3-2
on Beckett's last pitch. Darren Oliver relieved, and Phillips, his
first batter, homered to tie it 3-3.
Florida scored three runs in the third after Spencer, starting
in center for the first time this year, dropped Lowell's fly ball
that would have ended the inning. Spencer nearly collided with left
fielder Eric Valent; both started because of injuries Cliff Floyd
and Mike Cameron sustained while colliding Saturday.
Spencer said afterward he lost the ball in the sun; Valent
called the play "a miscommunication."
"That's why they are in first," Valent said. "You can't give
good teams a second chance."
Said Spencer: "I thought the ball was going to hit me in the
Cabrera, the next batter after the error, homered off Steve
Trachsel for a 5-3 lead, and Jeff Conine scored on Hee Seop Choi's
double. Trachsel allowed six runs -- three earned -- and six hits in
three innings, matching his shortest stint of the year.
"He can't be effective every time out," Howe said. "He had to
get four outs in that one inning, but he couldn't do it."
New York closed to 6-4 in the sixth on Wigginton's sixth homer,
then tied it in the seventh on Garcia's RBI groundout Phillips'
long homer off Borland.
Spencer had a busy first inning. He started an 8-6-2 play
on which Lowell was tagged at the plate for the first out, then
made a long run to catch a well-hit Conine fly ball for the second
out. ... The Marlins have outscored opponents 40-19 in first
innings. ... Pierre extended his string of consecutive series with
at least one hit to 48. ... Choi extended his hitting streak to a
career-best seven games.