Willis allowed four hits and one run in seven innings, winning
for only the second time in his last six starts and lifting the
Marlins over the Mets 2-1 on Friday night.
Luis Castillo had three hits, scored one run and drove in the
other for Florida, who stayed atop the NL East by one game over
Philadelphia and beat the Mets for the ninth time in their last 11
meetings dating to last season.
And Willis (5-3) beat the Mets for the fourth time in as many
starts, yielding only two runs in 28 innings in those matchups.
"The ball bounced my way today," Willis said. "I got some key
plays, was able to get some key outs and the bullpen pitched
Todd Zeile hit his third homer of the year for the Mets, who
lost for just the fifth time in their last 14 games.
"He's always going to be competitive," Zeile said of Willis,
last year's NL rookie of the year. "If he gets a fastball on both
sides of the plate, he's going to be tough."
Armando Benitez, facing his former team for the first time since
they traded him to the New York Yankees last July, pitched a
perfect ninth for his 19th save in 20 chances. He now has saved at
least one game against all 30 major league teams.
"We're used to seeing what you saw tonight, going right out
there after the big guys, getting the big hitters out," Marlins
manager Jack McKeon said. "He's done it all year for us. It was a
very, very huge performance tonight to go out there and put his
former team down."
Willis rolled through the first three innings, yet found trouble
in the fourth. Zeile homered to lead off, Cliff Floyd walked and
Mike Piazza followed with a single that got by Marlins right
fielder Miguel Cabrera, who was charged with an error.
But Willis got out of the jam with runners on second and third
with no outs by striking out Shane Spencer and, after intentionally
walking Jason Phillips to load the bases, fanning Mike Cameron. Ty
Wigginton lined out to center to end the inning.
"That was our best shot. We came up empty," Mets manager Art
Howe said. "It could have been had."
Tom Glavine (6-3) was coming off a one-hitter Sunday against
Colorado, but the Marlins -- who entered hitting .270 off
left-handers -- scratched out two early runs against the Mets' best
starter this season.
"Tommy pitched as good as he could pitch," Howe said. "That
was an outstanding performance."
Said Glavine: "This is a little bit more frustrating than
Castillo led off the first with a single, advanced to third on
two groundouts and scored on Miguel Cabrera's single for a 1-0
Hee Seop Choi's leadoff double -- a ricochet shot off the
first-base bag -- led to another Florida run in the second.
Castillo's two-out single to left was enough to score Choi from
second and put Florida up 2-0.
"I thought it was foul," Glavine said of Choi's double. "But
I didn't have time to worry about it."
The two runs would be all the Marlins would muster against
Glavine, who scattered five hits, walked two and struck out one.
But Willis made sure the two runs would be enough. Starting with
the strikeout of Cameron, Willis -- who was 1-3 with an 8.25 ERA
over his last five starts -- retired the last 11 he faced.
"That's what we needed. That's what he needed," McKeon said.
"One little break. He hadn't gotten many of late. He got a break,
got back in the winning column again. Got to be a big lift for
Cabrera will get a day off Saturday, McKeon said. Cabrera
has been slowed by a twinge in his left hamstring and was taken out
of Friday's game in the seventh. "Nothing serious," McKeon said.
... Florida (28-20) matched a season high by moving eight games
over the .500 mark. ... Piazza extended his hitting streak to 13
games. ... Florida's first-inning run was the first allowed by a
Mets starter in their last 22 1-3 innings. ... Willis, who entered
hitting .368, walked on four pitches in the second. ... Cameron is
0-for-5 with the bases loaded this season, with four strikeouts.
... Speedy Florida OF Juan Pierre grounded into his sixth double
play, three less than he did in all of 2003.