Wright extends hit streak to 26 games in victory

Unsung hero: Ramon Castro had four home runs last season and a career-high eight homers in 2005. While he won't be confused with Beltran or Carlos Delgado, his 2-5 night with a two-run homer helped the Mets top the Marlins.

Figure this: The Mets improved to 9-1 in night games this season while the Marlins have lost five in a row and seven of their last eight games.

Quotable: "I hope I keep doing the same things I'm doing. Every time they give me a chance, I try to prove I can play." -- Ramon Castro

Elias Says The Mets defeated the Marlins, 11-3, for their third consecutive victory by seven or more runs -- the first such streak in the team's 46-year history.

-- ESPN.com news services

Mets 11, Marlins 3

MIAMI (AP) -- Even the backup catcher is swinging a big bat this week for the New York Mets.

Ramon Castro homered and drove in three runs Thursday to help fuel the Mets' latest offensive outburst, and they drubbed the Florida Marlins for the second night in a row, 11-3.

Carlos Beltran went 4-for-6 with a home run, Jose Valentin hit his first homer, and David Wright's two-season hitting streak reached 26 games, extending his franchise record.

The Mets hiked their batting average to .303, best in the majors, and their pitching was decent, too. New York gave up only four hits and struck out 15 -- 10 by Orlando Hernandez in seven innings.

"Everyone contributed tonight," manager Willie Randolph said.

That included Castro. He filled in for Paul Lo Duca, nursing a sore right hand, and went 2-for-5 to hike his average to .357.

"I hope I keep doing the same things I'm doing," Castro said. "Every time they give me a chance, I try to prove I can play."

After enduring some cold early-season conditions, the Mets thrived in South Florida's 80-degree weather and swept the two-game series -- their first sweep in Miami since May 26-27, 1998.

"We just feel good in this kind of weather," Beltran said.

New York outscored the Marlins 20-5 and outhit them 33-7.

"We're not playing very good right now," said Florida slugger Miguel Cabrera, whose team has lost five in a row.

To make matters worse for the Marlins, Cabrera left in the third inning with an injury to his right oblique and declined to predict when he'll be back in the lineup.

The Mets scored nine runs with two outs, and that was plenty for Hernandez (2-1). In the first inning he gave up two hits and two runs, one unearned, before shutting out the Marlins on one hit over the next six innings.

"The team gives you tremendous support, both offensively and defensively," he said.

Hernandez reached double figures in strikeouts for the first time since he had 10 for the New York Yankees against Toronto on July 22, 2004.

Ambiorix Burgos and closer Billy Wagner pitched one inning each. Wagner, pitching for the first time in six days, gave up an unearned run but struck out the side in the ninth.

New York moved past Atlanta and holds a half-game lead over the Braves in the NL East heading into a three-game series between the teams that opens Friday at Shea Stadium.

"We're swinging the bats well," Randolph said. "It's a good time to have this challenge against the Braves."

The Marlins lost for the seventh time in eight games, and they also lost Cabrera. He gave a hint that he was hurting came when he bunted with a runner on second in the first inning -- his first sacrifice since his rookie year in 2003.

"When I swing and miss a ball, I feel something," he said.

Florida rookie Rick Vanden Hurk (0-1), making his second start, allowed eight runs in four innings. The right-hander from Holland had never pitched above Single-A before he was called up last week to replace injured starter Ricky Nolasco.

"Rough day," Vanden Hurk said. "You know that if you make a couple of mistakes to those guys, you're going to get in trouble."

Vanden Hurk was one strike from ending the third with a 2-1 lead, but the Mets then scored six runs.

Carlos Delgado hit a 2-2 pitch for a two-run double. Wright walked, and Shawn Green hit a two-run double. Castro followed with a two-run homer, his second.

Beltran made the score 8-2 with his fourth homer in the fourth, and he doubled home a run in the ninth, giving him 17 RBIs in 14 games.

Randolph batted Beltran second and Moises Alou third for the first time this season. The change paid off beginning in the first inning, when Beltran doubled with one out and scored on Alou's single.

"Anytime you have good hitters, it doesn't matter where you put them," Randolph said.

Wright extended his hitting streak when he singled in the fifth inning. He has hit in the first 14 games this year.

Game notes
A wild pitch Wednesday charged to Marlins LHP Dontrelle Willis was changed Thursday to a passed ball by Matt Treanor. The ruling made one run off Willis unearned, lowering his ERA from 5.25 to 4.88. ... Hernandez, known for his wide assortment of pitches, walked Mike Jacobs on a 52-mph butterfly changeup in the fourth. ... Beltran's four hits matched a career high.