Miami Marlins

Marlins defeat Mets behind strong pitching by Conley

Miami Marlins starting pitcher Adam Conley delivers a pitch during the first inning of a baseball game against the Miami Marlins, Saturday, April 8, 2017, in New York.
Miami Marlins starting pitcher Adam Conley delivers a pitch during the first inning of a baseball game against the Miami Marlins, Saturday, April 8, 2017, in New York. AP

Adam Conley almost didn’t make the Marlins’ Opening Day roster.

On Saturday, he proved he belonged all along.

Conley flirted briefly with a no-hitter, and the Marlins put away the Mets for their third straight win, 8-1.

“This is what we’re supposed to do,” Conley said.

The young lefty held the Mets hitless until Lucas Duda homered with two outs in the fifth. Beyond that, Conley was spectacular, a far cry from the southpaw who struggled throughout spring training.

It got so bad for Conley that the front office contemplated whether he might be better served to start the season in the minors.

But, in the end, he won the final rotation spot.

Conley retired the first 11 Mets batters before Yoenis Cespedes worked a two-out walk in the fourth. After Conley struck out Neil Walker and Jay Bruce to start the fifth, Duda broke up his no-hit bid with a solo home run. He would make it through the fifth, long enough to qualify for the decision, but wasn’t sent back out for the sixth after throwing 85 pitches.

Then again, Conley excels at Citi Field. In three career starts there, he is 2-0 with an 0.50 ERA. Duda’s homer was the first run he had ever given up at the Mets home ballpark.

“It is a park I always love coming to,” Conley said. “I think a lot of time, unbeknownst to players, there are pitches that get made throughout a game that are crucial in dictating the outcome of that game. For whatever reason, it seems to be that against these guys, I make that pitch.”

Conley struck out six even though his fastball never topped 90 mph.

Marlins pitcher Adam Conley picked up the victory as the Marlins won their third straight game Saturday, April 8, 2017.

Giancarlo Stanton put the Marlins on top in the first with a two-out single off Mets starter Robert Gsellman. Stanton went 3 for 4. All of his hits were singles, lifting his average to .333. He has yet to homer.

“No more home runs,” Stanton said with a chuckle. “I’m just trying to be short, not over swing.”

The Marlins went up 2-0 in the second on Marcell Ozuna’s first home run, and made it 3-0 in the third after J.T. Realmuto tripled to start the inning and scored on a sacrifice fly.

Even though Realmuto had three hits, his average dropped from .583 to .555. Realmuto has gone 10 for 18 with six runs, six RBI, and a pair of homers to start the season.

Ozuna would drive in an insurance run in the seventh with a RBI single.

“Everybody, top to bottom, looks really good,” Stanton said of the Marlins, who have scored 15 runs against the Mets in the first two games of the series. No one is trying to do too much. We had a high (batting) average last year. We didn’t score as many runs as we should have.”

The Marlins’ bullpen did its job, as Brad Ziegler, Kyle Barraclough, David Phelps and Jose Urena worked one inning each to close out the win and cement the series, win or lose Sunday.

At 3-2, the Marlins are tied for first with the Nationals.

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