MIAMI (AP) -- When the smoke cleared, the Florida Marlins were on
their way to a much-needed victory.
Haze from an Everglades brush fire descended on Pro Player
Stadium for several innings Saturday, but the Marlins overcame the
smoke and Tom Glavine to beat the New York Mets 5-2.Mike Lowell hit a two-run homer and Ben Howard pitched out of a
seventh-inning jam for the Marlins, who won for only the third time
in 10 games.On a muggy, 89-degree evening, smoke from a blaze more than 10
miles away filled the stadium from the second to the fifth innings.
But it failed to faze an enthusiastic crowd of 41,212, and it
didn't deter the Marlins."We like to play with smoke," manager Jack McKeon said
jokingly afterward as he lit one of his ever-present cigars.
"There's always some smoke in this stadium."The conditions presented a new challenge for Glavine (7-7) in
his 556th career start."I felt like I was pitching in a forest fire," he said. "It's
enough that it's hot and humid. Then you have to deal with the
smoke."Glavine allowed four runs in six innings, hiking his ERA to
2.66."To get four runs off a guy like that, it's nice," said
winning pitcher Brad Penny (8-7). "You've got to take advantage of
it."Penny shut out New York for six innings but ran into trouble in
the seventh. Howard retired Cliff Floyd and Richard Hidalgo with
the bases loaded to end the threat and preserve a 4-2 lead, then
celebrated with a fist pump as he headed for the dugout."It's the first time I've ever had 40,000 people cheering for
me to get somebody out," Howard said.Armando Benitez earned his 29th save in 31 chances. The
well-rested closer called the dugout during the game to say he was
available to work both the eighth and ninth, and he pitched two
innings for just the second time this season."He said, 'I want two,' and we said, 'You've got it,' " McKeon
said. "It was a good move, because we needed to win this game."Benitez struck out four, allowed just one baserunner and lowered
his ERA to 1.00.Lowell's home run was his 20th of the season and his 128th with
Florida, leaving him one shy of the club record held by Derrek Lee.
Alex Gonzalez added a solo homer in the eighth, his fourth in six
games and his 12th of the season.The Mets, who had won seven of their past nine games, fell
behind 4-0 before back-to-back doubles by Mike Cameron and Shane
Spencer started the seventh. After Penny departed, Todd Zeile
walked and Jose Reyes singled to make it 4-2.McKeon then called on Howard, who gave up a sacrifice and a walk
before retiring Floyd on a popup and Hidalgo on a strikes."At this level, when you don't do it, you end up being the
goat," Floyd said.Penny, who went 1-5 in his past six starts, allowed seven hits
and two runs and improved to 2-8 against the Mets.Juan Pierre led off the Marlins' first with a single, took
second on a sacrifice and scored on Miguel Cabrera's single before
Lowell homered.Florida made it 4-0 in the sixth when Hee Seop Choi led off with
a single and came home on a double by Gonzalez.
Mike Piazza's single in the sixth for New York was the
1,800th hit of his career. ... Florida starters have an ERA of 2.16
in the past four games. ... Mike Redmond went 0-for-3 against
Glavine, dropping his career average against the left-hander to
.438. ... Hidalgo extended his hitting streak to 13 games with a
single in the second. ... Florida's Jeff Conine, who popped out
with the bases loaded to end the fifth, is in a 3-for-33 slump. ...
Glavine's career record at Pro Player Stadium fell to 6-12 with an
ERA of 4.40.