Series: Game 3 of 3

Florida won 2-1

Game 1: Friday, July 9
NY Mets6Final
Game 2: Saturday, July 10
NY Mets2Final
Game 3: Sunday, July 11
NY Mets2Final

Mets 2

(44-43, 20-27 away)

Marlins 5

(45-43, 24-22 home)

    3:05 PM ET, July 11, 2004

    Sun Life Stadium, Miami, Florida 

    123456789 R H E
    NYM 000000200 2 6 1
    FLA 00400010 - 5 5 1

    W: D. Willis (7-5)

    L: A. Leiter (5-3)

    S: A. Benitez (30)

    Conine breaks slump with slam

    MIAMI (AP) -- Jeff Conine can spend the All-Star break savoring a big hit, instead of fretting about the worst slump of his career.

    Conine ended a woeful stretch with a grand slam Sunday for the Florida Marlins, helping Dontrelle Willis beat the New York Mets for the fifth time in as many tries, 5-2.

    Mired in a 3-for-34 slump, Conine broke up a scoreless tie with his sixth career grand slam in the third inning off Al Leiter (5-3).

    "It basically was the same pitch I popped up in my first at-bat," Conine said. "I missed it the first time. I got it the second time."

    Willis (7-5) allowed two runs in 6 1-3 innings. In five career starts against New York he's 5-0 with an ERA of 1.05.

    "Just one of those things, and I hope it continues," he said. "It's just the luck of the draw, I guess."

    Armando Benitez completed the six-hitter with a perfect ninth for his 30th save in 32 chances. He has pitched 11 consecutive scoreless innings to lower his ERA to 0.98.

    The Marlins improved to 45-43, matching their third-best record at the All-Star break. The win gave them back-to-back victories for the first time since June 22-23, and they're just 1½ games behind NL East leader Philadelphia.

    "Not a bad place to be when you've been playing as poorly as we've been playing the past month," Conine said.

    New York slipped to fourth in the division, but just two games behind Philadelphia.

    The temperature at the start was 93 degrees, and Leiter labored in the heat. The left-hander threw 88 pitches in three innings, reaching a 3-2 count on six batters.

    "I was trying to conserve some energy and keep the pitch count down," Leiter said. "I did exactly what I was trying not to do."

    Juan Pierre doubled in the third, and consecutive two-out walks to Miguel Cabrera and Mike Lowell loaded the bases. Conine then pulled a 1-1 pitch over the scoreboard for his sixth home run this season, hiking his average with runners in scoring position to .174.

    "He has struggled, and people questioned why I put him in the lineup," manager Jack McKeon said. "But you've got to have respect for what he's done in the past, and you can't just quit on him. I was rooting for him and hoping he'd turned things around. Maybe this is a positive thing to get him going."

    Conine's average is .256, but he said he felt as though he was batting .220 because of the slump.

    "It's the worst of my career," said Conine, 38. "I just want to forget about it, take the break, have a good time with my kids and come back relaxed on Thursday."

    Leiter, who lost for the first time since May 11, departed after the third inning. His shortest outing this year raised his ERA from 2.05 to 2.40.

    "He was one pitch away from a zero on the board," manager Art Howe said.

    Lowell drove in Florida's other run with a two-out double in the seventh off Mike Stanton after Luis Castillo tripled.

    Willis won for the first time in his past five starts. He left in the seventh after giving up consecutive doubles to Ty Wigginton and Shane Spencer, followed by Vance Wilson's one-out RBI single to make the score 4-2.

    Billy Koch retired the next two batters to end the inning, then struck out the side in the eighth.

    Spencer and Mike Cameron singled to start the Mets' fifth, but Willis retired the next three batters.

    "He's tough all the time," Spencer said. "He throws a lot of arms and legs at you. We hit some balls hard, but we didn't have the hits."

    Game notes

    The hitter with the highest average in either lineup starting the game: Willis, who went 0-for-3, dropping him to .286. ... Conine has four grand slams with the Marlins, which ties him with Derrek Lee for the franchise lead. ... Third baseman Lowell dropped a pop foul when he collided with first baseman Hee Seop Choi, who was charged with an error. The batter, Kaz Matsui, then grounded out. ... Leiter's record at Pro Player Stadium fell to 22-9.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press