The Mets were playing every bit as badly as the Marlins heading into the weekend. They had lost 13 of their previous 15 games to slide to within a game of last-place Miami.
Not after sweeping the Marlins.
The Mets brought out the brooms after Ruben Tejada’s two-out RBI single in the ninth off Ryan Webb handed the Marlins a 3-2 defeat. It was the first series sweep for the Mets since they took three from — you guessed it — the Marlins in Miami during their last visit there.
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For that matter, the Mets have won 11 of 15 meetings between the two teams this season, with three games remaining in South Florida to end the season.
The Marlins never had a lead at any point during the series, and Sunday was more of the same when David Wright hit a two-run homer off Ricky Nolasco in the first inning.
Wright had hit .400 with five homers in his career against Nolasco entering the game. On Sunday, he hit a first-pitch fastball over the wall in left-center at Citi Field.
“David Wright has had a lot of success against me,” Nolasco said. “He guessed right there and didn’t miss it. I was just trying to get that ball in on his hands a little more.”
The Marlins tied it in the fifth on Bryan Petersen’s sacrifice fly and Mets catcher Kelly Shoppach’s throwing error. But they could never come up with the RBI hit when they needed it.
“Ricky pitched well, pitched very well,” said manager Ozzie Guillen. “But after that pitch, he pitched a good game. Once again we had men at third with less than two outs and we couldn’t bring the guy in.”
Nolasco, who has pitched well of late, clamped down on the Mets after the first, scattering only three hits over his remaining six innings on the mound.
The Mets threatened in the seventh when Andres Torres doubled with one out. After Nolasco struck out Shoppach, he intentionally walked pinch-hitter Mike Baxter to face the right-hander Tejada. That strategy worked when Tejada flied to right for the third out of the inning.
But the same strategy didn’t pay off in the ninth.
With Webb on the mound, Scott Hairston singled to start the inning. One out later, Torres drew a walk and the Mets had two men aboard. Pinch-hitter Jordany Valdespin bounced to Jose Reyes at short, who threw to Donovan Solano at second for the force. But they couldn’t complete the double play, leaving runners at the corners with one out.
When the Mets sent up left-handed hitter Fred Lewis to pinch-hit, Guillen elected to intentionally walk the .158 hitter to load the bases and have Webb face the right-handed hitting Tejada instead.
Tejada promptly singled to center to end the game.
“Webb is a better pitcher against righties than lefties,” Guillen said, explaining the decision. “We take that chance, and I think it’s the best matchup. Right now I see him getting more righties out than lefties, and that’s why we make the move.”
It didn’t work Sunday.
Then again, for the Marlins, nothing seems to be working these days.