NEW YORK (AP) — Clay Hensley came off the disabled list to win his first major league start in three years, leading the resurgent Florida Marlins past the New York Mets 4-1 on Monday night.
Mike Stanton hit a two-run double and slumping Mike Cameron followed with an RBI single for the Marlins, who have won nine of 10 to put themselves on the brink of climbing out of last place in the NL East.
Florida improved to 15-9 under 80-year-old manager Jack McKeon, who took over after Edwin Rodriguez abruptly resigned late in the team’s 1-19 June swoon.
In the makeup of a May 17 rainout, Hensley (1-2) allowed one hit over five scoreless innings against a depleted Mets lineup. It was his 41st big league start — but first since July 24, 2008, for San Diego at Pittsburgh. The right-hander made 20 appearances out of the bullpen this season before a sprained shoulder sidelined him June 1.
A double by Willie Harris in the first inning was the only hit given up by Hensley, who struck out three and walked two in an 84-pitch outing. Michael Dunn, Edward Mujica, Randy Choate and Leo Nunez completed the three-hitter.
Choate gave up a leadoff single and a one-out walk in the ninth before going to a 2-0 count on Lucas Duda. That was enough for McKeon, who strolled to the mound and brought in Nunez as a furious Choate stomped around in the dugout.
Duda drew a walk, charged to Choate, before Jason Bay’s sacrifice fly made it 4-1. With runners at the corners, Nunez retired Ronny Paulino on a slow grounder for his 27th save in 30 tries.
The Mets expect to get star shortstop Jose Reyes (hamstring) and perhaps Carlos Beltran (flu) back on Tuesday, with David Wright (back) soon to follow this week.
But on Monday, they looked listless and inept at the plate.
Harris’ double was New York’s lone hit until Nick Evans singled off Dunn to start the seventh. Harris also singled leading off the ninth.
The Mets have lost six of eight following a four-game winning streak.
McKeon stacked his lineup with eight right-handed batters, but Chris Capuano (8-9) held Florida hitless until Hanley Ramirez singled on a two-strike pitch with two outs in the fourth. Gaby Sanchez walked and Stanton laced a two-run double to left-centre.
Cameron, who began the night 3 for 20 (.150) with Florida, singled to make it 3-0.
Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada, filling in for Reyes, made a spectacular play in the fifth when he ranged far into shallow centre field for a fully extended, diving catch of Hensley’s soft looper.
Emilio Bonifacio and Omar Infante followed with consecutive bunts. Bonifacio clearly beat the play at first, but was called out by umpire Greg Gibson. Infante was correctly ruled safe on his single.
Bonifacio singled to start the eighth, extending his career-best hitting streak to 17 games, and advanced on Infante’s sacrifice. He stole third and scored on Logan Morrison’s single.
Bonifacio’s hitting streak is the longest current run in the majors and Florida’s longest this season.
This was the first of seven games between the teams in a span of 17 days. Florida, which has won 13 of 17, made a one-game pit stop in New York between a four-game series at Wrigley Field and the start of a six-game homestand.
NOTES: McKeon said it was his first trip to Citi Field, which opened in 2009, and he liked the ballpark more than the Mets’ previous home, Shea Stadium. “The clubhouse is just a little bit better. I don’t see any rats running around,” said McKeon, holding a cigar in his fingers as he sat in the dugout. “I guess they probably get an A-rating from the health department. I don’t know what the old place got.” … Florida OF Chris Coghlan (left knee inflammation) had a setback in his rehab assignment with Double-A Jacksonville. The 2009 NL Rookie of the Year will stop playing games for now and receive treatment on his knee. … As long as he’s effective enough, Florida plans to keep Hensley in the rotation, which is minus injured ace Josh Johnson. … Mets 2B Justin Turner was rested against the right-hander. Harris, who entered on a 9-for-20 surge at the plate, made his first start of the season at second. … Bay was booed after grounding sharply into a second-inning double play. Bay made a diving catch of Cameron’s popup in the third, though replays appeared to show the ball hit the ground. … Scott Hairston replaced Beltran in RF but left the game after two innings. Batting cleanup, Hairston fouled a ball off his left shin in the first inning and jogged gingerly down to first base on a groundout. The Mets said Hairston has a bruised left shin. X-rays were negative and he is day to day.
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