Marlins sweep Mets; Friday's game postponed

NEW YORK (AP) -- The way the Florida Marlins are playing, only a
force of nature could slow them down.

That's exactly what happened.

Carl Pavano and the Marlins beat the New York Mets 9-6 Thursday
for their seventh win in a row before packing up and flying back to
South Florida to prepare for Hurricane Frances. The storm has
already forced the postponement of Friday night's game against the
Chicago Cubs -- but the Marlins aren't fazed.

"The good news is, I saved $159 on my car insurance," manager
Jack McKeon said, spoofing the ubiquitous commercials in his own
way. "Hopefully, we'll start up again Saturday and keep going the
way we've been going."

Players showered and dressed quickly so they could return to a
state bracing for its worst storm in at least a decade. Frances,
packing 145 mph winds and the potential to push ashore waves up to
15 feet high, could be felt in Florida by midmorning Friday.

"A lot of us have houses and family down there, so obviously
we're worried about it," Pavano said.

The Marlins said no decision had been made on whether to call
off games Saturday or Sunday, or when Friday's postponement will be
made up.

Pavano, who tied for the NL lead with his 16th win, allowed four
runs and eight hits in six-plus innings. Damion Easley and Juan
Encarnacion each drove in three runs for the Marlins, who swept the
four-game series.

Rookie third baseman David Wright homered twice for the
free-falling Mets, who have lost six straight and 11 of 12, ending
their homestand at 1-10. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it
was the Mets' worst homestand of 10 or more games since their first
season in 1962.

Pavano (16-5) struck out six and left after allowing Jeff
Keppinger's leadoff single in the seventh. Guillermo Mota pitched
two hitless innings of relief, and Josias Manzanillo finished up.

Wright hit a three-run homer off Pavano with two outs in the
fourth and a solo shot off Manzanillo in the ninth for his first
career multihomer game.

"Obviously, it's bittersweet," Wright said. "It's exciting
that I do get the multi-home run game. But I'd much rather have the
win. Definitely one of my best games. I fixed a few things in my
swing, and I feel really good."

Pavano is tied with Houston's Roy Oswalt, but has a better
record than Oswalt's 16-9. Mark Mulder of Oakland and Curt
Schilling of Boston both have 17 wins.

The Marlins are 2 games behind Chicago for the NL wild-card
spot. San Francisco and San Diego also stand between the defending
World Series champions and their third postseason appearance.
Though they've won two World Series titles since their inception in
1993, the Marlins have yet to win a division crown. Atlanta has an
eight-game lead in the NL East.

Florida scored four runs in the second, on an RBI double by
Encarnacion and a two-run single by Juan Pierre, plus an error by
catcher Jason Phillips. After Encarnacion's double, Alex Gonzalez
was intentionally walked to get to Pavano, who grounded out.

Pierre singled to right, scoring Mike Lowell, and Encarnacion
was waved in behind him. Richard Hidalgo's throw from right might
have beaten him, but he scored easily when it squirted through
Phillips' legs. Pitcher Jae Seo and Phillips both started after the
ball, and Gonzalez also came home as the crowd of 24,937 jeered.

Seo (4-8) was lifted for a pinch-hitter after throwing 93
pitches in five innings. He allowed five runs -- four earned -- on
seven hits and three walks.

"There were a couple of calls the umpire didn't give to me,"
Seo said through a translator. "There were times when I felt I was
pitching to two different guys calling balls and strikes back

Wilson Delgado and Mike Piazza struck out to start the fourth
before Cliff Floyd doubled and Hidalgo walked ahead of Wright's
drive to right.

Delgado's RBI single in the fifth brought the Mets within a run.
But the Marlins put together another four-inning in the eighth
against Tyler Yates. Encarnacion hit a two-run homer and Easley hit
a two-run double.

"The eighth inning was the dagger in our heart, so to speak,"
Mets manager Art Howe said. "Yates just couldn't get them out."

Pinch-hitter Todd Zeile also homered off Manzanillo in the

Game notes
Keppinger got his first major league steal in the seventh,
swiping second. ... Pierre has hit safely in 13 straight games. ...
Piazza hit into an inning-ending double play in the fifth. ... The
Mets stranded Floyd after a leadoff double in the sixth.