Jose Reyes recorded the Marlins’ first hit the night they christened their new ballpark in 2012.
His three hits on Friday night as the Mets’ starting third baseman played a huge part in dealing the Marlins a 5-3 defeat in Reyes’ first game back at Marlins Park since being traded following the 2012 season.
The loss reduced the Marlins’ lead over the Mets in the National League East standings to a half-game. The Nationals lead the second-place Marlins by 4 1/2 games.
“It doesn’t mean anything,” said Reyes, downplaying his return to Miami. “It was another game. I felt like I was seeing the ball better from both sides of the plate. Hopefully, I can continue to be like that.”
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Reyes, who rejoined the Mets organization on June 25 following a 51-game suspension and was called up to play third base on July 5, scored two runs, including the go-ahead run in the top of the seventh on a sacrifice fly by Yoenis Cespedes. Reyes and Curtis Granderson led off the seventh with consecutive singles off reliever David Phelps.
“I tell myself to throw a two-seamer down there to get a ground ball,” Phelps said. “I get a ground ball. It’s just placed really well. Curtis usually hits it right at [second] when he hits a ground ball. And then [Marlins pitching coach] Juan [Nieves] comes out and says, ‘What do you want to do?’ I said ‘I want to throw a fastball up and in to Cespedes and jam him up.’ Hopefully, I get a weak fly ball. He hit it a little harder than I thought.”
James Loney gave the Mets (51-44) some breathing room over the Marlins (52-44) with a two-run homer off Fernando Rodney in the top of the ninth.
Martin Prado cut the deficit to two runs in the bottom of the ninth with a pinch-hit single off closer Jeurys Familia that drove in Christian Yelich. But Familia closed out his major-league-leading 34th save of the season and 50th in a row overall by inducing Adeiny Hechavarria to ground into a fielder’s choice.
Yelich evened the score at 2-2 in the sixth inning with a two-run home run to right-center. It was Yelich’s career-high 10th home run of the season and his third in the past four games.
He leads the team with 54 RBI, which matches a single-season high.
“It was one of those games you feel like you’re not doing anything, but you get out of some jams and you feel like you’re getting a chance when Yelich hits the two-run homer,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “You feel like you’re going to steal one, but we couldn’t stop them from there.”
Giancarlo Stanton snapped an 0-for-11 slump in the next at-bat with a sharp single to left. But he was thrown out trying to advance to second base by Cespedes.
“That’s just a read, and I think he seemed like he caught [Neil] Walker off guard not looking and it was really close,” Mattingly said.
Mets starter Logan Verrett had befuddled the Marlins, who had just two hits until that inning when J.T. Realmuto led off with a double.
Verrett, a reliever and spot starter for the Mets until being inserted into the rotation earlier this month following Matt Harvey’s season-ending injury, had compiled a 0.50 ERA in 18 previous innings against the Marlins.
“That kind of pitcher has given us trouble over the past week to 10 days,” Mattingly said. “A guy that can change speeds and pitch backwards like that, it’s given us trouble. That’s an area that we’ll make strides and get better.”
Reyes led off the game with a double and came around to score on another Cespedes sacrifice fly. He drove in the Mets’ second run in the fourth with a single off Adam Conley that scored Travis d’Arnaud.
Conley didn’t have his best stuff but limited the damage to those two runs on six hits over six innings. After running into trouble in each of the first four innings, Conley didn’t allow a hit in the fifth or sixth.
“I’ve pitched against them a couple times in the past,” Conley said. “They kind of know my reputation by now. Obviously, I’m trying to get the ball in so I can open both sides of the plate. I didn’t think the slider was that sharp [Friday night]. I made a few mistakes early, and to their credit they were able to put balls in the gap there.”
▪ Ichiro Suzuki struck out in a pinch-hitting appearance in the eighth, keeping his major-league career hits total at 2,996.