Mets' Perez shuts down Florida

August 8, 2008 7:09:00 PM PDT
Oliver Perez pitched two-hit ball for seven innings, David Wright and Carlos Delgado homered and the New York Mets took the first game of a key series against their division rival Florida Marlins, 3-0 Friday night. Wright followed his game-winning homer on Thursday with a two-run shot in the first off Ricky Nolasco, helping the Mets win consecutive games for the first time since taking three in a row July 23-25. They moved a half-game ahead of Florida for second in the NL East, after beginning the night two games behind the division-leading Phillies.

The Marlins, coming off a series win in Philadelphia, have not homered in four straight games for the first time this season. Wes Helms' double in the second and Cody Ross' two-base hit in the seventh were the Marlins' only hits off Perez.

Moved up a day in the rotation because John Maine is on the disabled list, Perez (8-7) improved to 3-0 against the Mets' low-budget rival this season. He was in trouble just once, loading the bases in the second on a pair of walks around a strikeout and Helms' hit. But he worked out of that jam when John Baker hit a meek liner that third baseman Wright let drop in front of him for a force at home, followed by a strikeout of Nolasco.

The Marlins then went down in order until the sixth, when Hanley Ramirez walked leading off. Perez rebounded by retiring the Nos. 2, 3 and 4 batters, pouncing off the mound and making a swift spin and throw to nab Josh Willingham at first to end the inning.

Perez came out to start the seventh already having thrown 106 pitches, and used his 120th to get Baker to fly out to end the inning. He walked off the mound to an appreciative cheer from the Shea Stadium crowd and was pinch-hit for in the bottom half.

Perez struck out eight and walked three, and the Mets improved to 6-2 in his starts since beating the Yankees on June 29.

Aaron Heilman entered in the eighth to boos but won over the crowd with a perfect inning. He then struck out two of three batters in the ninth for his first save in three chances, giving a boost to a beleaguered New York bullpen that has struggled without closer Billy Wagner, who is on the DL. It was Heilman's first save since Aug. 25, 2007, against the Dodgers.

Wright's homer off Nolasco (11-7) was his 22nd of the year and it came after Daniel Murphy singled in the first. Delgado returned to the lineup from a day off and hit his 24th homer, just clearing the fence in left-center, with one out in the fourth inning.

Nolasco gave up three runs, seven hits and a walk in 6 2-3 innings.

Notes: Maine tested his strained right rotator cuff in a simulated game at Shea Stadium before batting practice. He threw 61 pitches, including breaking balls, and declared he is ready to start Wednesday, when he is due to come off the DL. ... RHP Brian Stokes will be called up from Triple-A New Orleans to start Saturday for the Mets. ... Marlins LHP Andrew Miller (patella tendinitis in right knee) is scheduled to make a rehab start Saturday for Class-A Jupiter.