Maine tosses five scoreless in Mets win

March 14, 2008 5:40:31 PM PDT
John Maine threw five more scoreless innings Friday in the Mets' 8-2 win over the Marlins, then said it was the best he's thrown all spring.Some sharp defense didn't hurt.

With David Wright getting the day off, Jose Valentin started at third base and made an impressive play in the third inning, bare-handing Dan Uggla's slow roller and throwing off-balance to nail him at first.

Maine was able to work out of early jams and extend his streak of scoreless innings to 10. He got himself out of trouble in the first inning, after Florida's Hanley Ramirez and Uggla reached on a double and error by shortstop Anderson Hernandez.

Maine then got Luis Gonzalez to pop out to third before Josh Willingham flew out to left and Mike Jacobs struck out to end the inning.

"It's weird to say, but I'm kind of glad it happened," Maine said of the early trouble, "because I had to work out of it, especially in the first inning. You get guys on with no outs and you get out of it, that's good. You need to be able to do that."

Carlos Beltran made his second straight start in center field and went 2-for-3 with a double. On Monday, he played as the designated hitter in his spring debut, in his first action since off-season arthroscopic surgery on both knees.

Beltran said his knees felt sore Friday morning but he still asked manager Willie Randolph to put him in center field instead of the DH.

"The DH is not the same as when you play in the field. You have to keep moving," Beltran said. "I don't know how Edgar Martinez did it for all those years."

Beltran said he plans to be ready for opening day.

"I'll be ready to go," he said. "I'm trying to get in shape in the outfield. Today was good because I was able to run the bases. I felt a little bit of pain but it's not a bad pain."

The Marlins got a shaky start from right-hander Ricky Nolasco, who allowed six runs and seven hits in two-plus innings.

"I wasn't getting ahead of guys like I had been," he said. "I tried to limit the damage at first, one thing led to another and it ended up being a day I'll try to forget."

With two weeks left in camp and key starters out with ailments, the Marlins are scrambling to put together their rotation. Nolasco is still in the mix, but right-handed prospect Burke Badenhop made a case for a spot with another fine outing Friday.

Coming in relief of Nolasco and Randall Williams, Badenhop allowed three hits over four scoreless innings.

"He just keeps pounding the strike zone," Gonzalez said of Badenhop, one of six players Florida acquired last December from the Tigers in the Dontrelle Willis-Miguel Cabrera trade. "It was impressive to see, and he got to face some of the big hitters."