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August 8, 2012

Giancarlo Stanton, Jose Reyes lead Miami Marlins in win over New York Mets

Lifted by the return of Giancarlo Stanton and Jose Reyes extending his hitting streak, the Marlins topped the Mets.

The last time Giancarlo Stanton’s name appeared on a Marlins lineup card, he was listed two spots behind Hanley Ramirez, one in front of Logan Morrison, and Carlos Zambrano was that day’s starter.

How times have changed.

Ramirez has been traded. Morrison is on the DL. And Zambrano has lost his spot in the rotation.

On Tuesday, four weeks after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery, Stanton returned to a lineup missing many of the major components that were in place when he last played on July 7.

But even though some of his former teammates are no longer around, Stanton made it feel like old times at Citi Field, driving in a run with a sacrifice fly and giving the lineup card a major league look and feel it has been lacking.

Stanton was but one contributor in the Marlins’ 4-2 win over the New York Mets, as Jose Reyes extended his hitting streak to 25 consecutive games.

“That’s a huge bat to be missing,’’ said catcher John Buck, who contributed offensively to Tuesday’s win with a two-out, two-run double. “So I’m happy to see him back.’’

Stanton struck out twice and flied out to deep center in his other three plate appearances. But, once the rust wears off, the Marlins expect Stanton to return to his previous form when he was blasting balls out of the park and posing a concern to opponents.

“I think the lineup looks a lot different when he’s in the lineup,’’ said manager Ozzie Guillen.

The depleted Marlins need all the help they can get.

With runs hard to come by, the Marlins scored four in Tuesday’s fourth inning. Justin Ruggiano and Reyes reached on infield hits before Carlos Lee made it 1-0 with an RBI single.

The soft ground ball for Reyes extended his career-long hitting streak. It is the longest this season in the majors and tied Kevin Millar for the third-longest in Marlins franchise history. Millar also had a 25-game hitting streak in 2002. Next up on the list for Reyes is Emilio Bonifacio’s 26-game streak.

It was revealed afterward that Reyes is playing with a sore right hand, which he jammed over the weekend in Washington. He said it bothers him more when he is batting right-handed as opposed to when he switches and hits from the other side.

Reyes didn’t exactly receive a warm ovation for his accomplishment. As they did when the Marlins visited Citi Field in April, some fans booed the former Met — something he figured would happen.

After Stanton made it 2-0 with his sacrifice fly, the Marlins kept the pressure on Mets starter Jonathon Niese. Austin Kearns singled before Buck ripped a two-out double in to the right-field corner to drive in two more runs.

Against the Mets, who are sinking in the standings at a rate similar to the Marlins, Wade LeBlanc and five relievers received just enough run support to hang the loss on New York.

LeBlanc, who has taken Zambrano’s spot in the rotation, was unable to make it through five innings to receive credit for the win. Guillen put an 85-pitch limit on LeBlanc’s second start, and the 85th pitch, which turned out to be his last, was launched into the upper deck in right by Daniel Murphy for a home run in the fifth.

After Chad Gaudin took over for LeBlanc, the Mets strung together three consecutive singles, capped by Andres Torres’ RBI single to right to make it 4-2.

Following Gaudin, Zambrano, Mike Dunn, Heath Bell and Steve Cishek preserved the lead.

Cishek worked the ninth for his seventh save. Zambrano was credited with the victory.

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