NEW YORK (AP) -- With 18 innings of baseball scheduled for
Saturday, Florida starter Josh Johnson wanted to give the bullpen a
rest in the first game of a doubleheader.
He wasn't able to, but the Marlins' relievers didn't seem to
mind.Johnson and four relievers combined to three-hit the New York
Mets, and Miguel Cabrera, Josh Willingham and Hanley Ramirez
homered to give Florida a 3-2 victory in the doubleheader's opener."I need to be more consistent. ... I need to help the bullpen,
I need to go deep in the game and I didn't do it," said Johnson,
who gave up two hits in five innings. "I kind of let the bullpen
down."Mets rookie John Maine (0-3) gave up all three homers, ruining
an otherwise effective outing. He allowed six hits in six innings,
struck out three and didn't walk a batter."Three solo home runs and that's the only problem he had
today," manager Willie Randolph said. "He showed good velocity
and movement on his pitches."Johnson's only rough inning came in the fifth. Two walks and an
error loaded the bases with one out. Johnson got Chris Woodward to
pop out to second and had a chance to escape the inning with the
shutout intact. But he walked the next two batters, Carlos Beltran
and Julio Franco, to tie it at 2. Franco walked on four pitches,
not even truly getting in his stance before ball four."I kind of just lost it," Johnson said.The score didn't remain tied for long. In the sixth, Ramirez
sent a 2-1 pitch from Maine into the left-field seats to put the
Marlins up 3-2.Johnson (8-4) and the Florida bullpen took it from there. Joe
Borowski pitched the ninth for his 16th save in 18 opportunities."They've been picking me up all year," said Johnson, who has
won four straight since losing to San Francisco on June 6.New York tried to rally in the eighth, putting runners on first
and second with one out. Randolph even inserted Jose Reyes as a
pinch runner, hoping the All-Star's speed could help the Mets tie
the game. Reyes needed seven stitches after he cut his left pinky
sliding headfirst into first base in Friday's game and wasn't
expected to play.But all the strategy was for naught. Pinch-hitter Paul Lo Duca
struck out and Ramon Castro grounded out to end the inning."Any time you don't pick up runs, it's a little frustrating,"
Randolph said. "We have to work harder doing it."There was some excitement in the eighth when Mets reliever
Duaner Sanchez hit leadoff hitter Cabrera with a pitch as Cabrera
squared around to bunt. Cabrera yelled at Sanchez and both benches
emptied.Things remained tense and, when Sanchez bounded off the mound
after striking out Miguel Olivo to end the inning, both Olivo and
Cabrera yelled at the reliever, with Cabrera getting tossed from
the game by third-base umpire Charlie Reliford.Florida went up 1-0 in the second when Cabrera homered to left.
The ball just cleared the fence, appearing to glance off the glove
of a leaping Cliff Floyd. Willingham made it 2-0 when he led off
the fifth with his solo shot.The Mets loaded the bases with two outs in the second inning,
but came away with no runs when Johnson struck out Maine to end the
threat.In the doubleheader's second game, right-hander Mike Pelfrey,
the ninth pick in last year's amateur draft, was set to make his
major league debut for New York.
Franco came in for 1B Carlos Delgado in the fifth inning.
Delgado was hit on the left hand by a pitch in the second. X-rays
were negative and he is day to day with a bruise on his knuckle.
... The four starting pitchers for Saturday's doubleheader are
rookies. The last time two teams started four rookie pitchers in a
doubleheader was Toronto at Milwaukee on Aug. 7, 1977. The Blue
Jays started Jerry Garvin and Jim Clancy against the Brewers' Lary
Sorenson and Moose Haas. ... Reyes said he hasn't made a decision
about playing in Tuesday's All-Star Game. He will make the trip to
Pittsburgh regardless of how his pinky is doing. "You have to go,
right?" the first time All-Star said with a smile Saturday.