Maine's near no-hitter helps Mets stay in playoff race

" Hunt for October: With Philadelphia's 4-2 loss to Washington, the NL East race comes down to this: The Phillies and Mets are tied with one game left.

" Hero: Maine finished with a career best 14 strikeouts on his way to allowing only one hit and two walks.

" Oh snap! With the win, the Mets snapped a five-game losing streak overall, an eight-game home losing streak and a seven-game NL East losing streak.

" Quotable: "We weren't going to lose today." -- Maine

-- ESPN.com news services

Mets 13, Marlins 0

NEW YORK (AP) -- John Maine stopped the Mets' slide with an
overpowering performance that pulled them into a first-place tie.
He nearly did a whole lot more than that.

Maine flirted with the first no-hitter in team history before
allowing an infield single to Paul Hoover with two outs in the
eighth inning, and New York snapped out of its September doldrums
by routing the Florida Marlins 13-0 in a fight-filled game

Mets pitcher John Maine flirted with the first no-hitter in team history before allowing an infield single to the Marlins' Paul Hoover with two outs in the eighth inning of New York's 13-0 victory on Saturday to maintain the record for the longest no-hitter drought in MLB history.


Last no-hitter


Never (since 1962)


Never (since 1969)


Milt Pappas vs. San Diego, Sept. 2, 1972


John Montefusco at Atlanta, Sept. 29, 1976


Len Barker (perfect game) vs. Toronto, May 15, 1981

"We weren't going to lose today," Maine said.

Maine finished with 14 strikeouts, the most by a Mets pitcher in
eight years, and departed to a raucous ovation long after Florida
catcher Miguel Olivo charged across the diamond and threw a punch
at buddy Jose Reyes in the fifth -- setting off a bench-clearing

Once order was restored, the Mets ended a five-game skid that
cost them their NL East lead. Hours later, they moved back into a
tie with Philadelphia for first place in the NL East when the
Phillies lost 4-2 to Washington.

After squandering a seven-game cushion with 17 to play and
falling a game back, New York entered Saturday with a chance to
suddenly be eliminated from postseason contention. A loss to
Florida and a Phillies win over Washington would have sent the Mets
home for the winter.

Instead, Maine (15-10) gave them the dominant outing they've
desperately needed for two weeks.

"We needed a stopper and he was our guy," David Wright said.

New York will hope for another big effort from 300-game winner
Tom Glavine in the regular-season finale Sunday. The Mets face
nemesis Dontrelle Willis (10-15), who is 11-3 with a 2.49 ERA in 18
career starts against them -- including 5-0 at Shea Stadium.

A win over Florida and another Philadelphia loss Sunday would
give New York consecutive division titles for the first time. If
the Mets and Phillies finish tied, they would have a one-game
playoff Monday in Philadelphia for the NL East crown. Philadelphia
beat New York in their final eight meetings this year.

Lastings Milledge homered twice, Ramon Castro also connected and
Luis Castillo had three key hits for the Mets, who had lost eight
straight home games and 11 of 15 overall -- putting them in danger
of completing one of baseball's most colossal collapses.

Maine was looking to make his own bit of history for the Mets,
born in 1962. He struck out seven straight during one stretch and
held Florida hitless into the eighth. With the crowd of 54,675
getting more and more excited, Hoover hit a dribbler up the
third-base line that left Wright with no chance to make a play.

"You couldn't have rolled the ball any better," Maine said.
"What are you going to do?"

Wright put his arm around Maine on the mound as manager Willie
Randolph walked out to lift the right-hander after 115 pitches.
Maine took a curtain call before Willie Collazo and Carlos Muniz
finished the one-hitter.

Milledge flopped on a clubhouse couch to watch that game on
television for a while, but most of the Mets scattered, saying they
would keep an eye on it with family and friends or get updates via
cell phone.

The teams first spilled onto the field when Florida pitcher
Harvey Garcia threw behind Castillo in the fifth. Holding the bat
in his hand, Castillo walked toward the mound with his arms spread
wide. Mets pitching coach Rick Peterson was incensed, pointing
angrily toward Marlins coaches as the benches and bullpens emptied.

"That's irresponsible. That's not how you play the game,"
Peterson said. "It was a knee-jerk reaction."

No punches were thrown, however, with both teams mostly just
milling close to each other near home plate.

After a brief delay, play resumed. Castillo walked and Marlins
manager Fredi Gonzalez came out to make a double switch.

Reyes, on third base, was jawing with Olivo, who was standing on
the mound during the pitching change. Reyes said he was kidding
with Olivo, figuring it was harmless because the two chat all the

"I'm on the mound waiting for the pitcher, and he yelled at me.
He says, 'You want to fight?' I said, 'OK,'" Olivo said. "We're
good friends. Maybe he just got a little excited. We play winter
ball in the Dominican all the time. I don't care. He wants to be my
friend? I'll be his friend. But I don't care."

Reyes' story was slightly different, though he also said the two
are friends. He said Olivo was the one who asked him if he wanted
to fight, so he answered yes -- but again thought they were simply

Suddenly, though, Olivo charged at Reyes and took a swing that
failed to connect.

"I'm too quick for that," Reyes said. "He [took] it serious.
I don't know why."

Mets third base coach Sandy Alomar held off Olivo, and Florida
third baseman Miguel Cabrera grabbed hold of Reyes as both teams
poured onto the field. There was plenty of pushing and shoving, but
it appeared no other punches were thrown.

Olivo was ejected -- and replaced by Hoover. Reyes wasn't tossed.
He scored on Wright's single, making it 10-0.

Marlins star shortstop Hanley Ramirez appeared to be hit on the
left hand by Maine's pitch in the fourth, though he wasn't awarded
first base. Plate umpire CB Bucknor ruled it a foul ball off the
knob of the bat.

Robert Andino replaced Ramirez, and X-rays on his hand were

New York chased rookie Chris Seddon (0-2) in the second inning.

Game notes
It was the most strikeouts by a Mets pitcher since Al Leiter had 15 on Aug. 1, 1999, at Chicago. ... New York had a season-high 19 hits.