- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 12, 2009

MIAMI (AP) - Livan Hernandez found a way to beat the Florida Marlins: by throwing curves slower than the team bus.

Hernandez used his off-speed stuff to take a shutout into the seventh inning, helping the New York Mets hand the Marlins their first loss, 8-4 on Saturday night.

Florida had been the last undefeated team in the majors, but Hernandez tamed an offense that batted .309 and scored 31 runs as the Marlins won their first four games. Meanwhile, Ricky Nolasco (1-1) endured the poorest outing so far by a Florida starter, allowing four runs in five innings.

New York’s Jose Reyes had his first three RBIs of the season, including a two-run homer. Luis Castillo went 4-for-4, hiking his average from .100 to .357. Carlos Delgado finished 3-for-4 with two RBIs for the Mets, who totaled 15 hits.

Although Florida proved to be beatable, Marlins leadoff hitter Emilio Bonifacio continued to look unstoppable. He went 3-for-5 with a double and an RBI single, which raised his average to .583.

The game drew 39,412 fans, the Marlins’ largest crowd since Aug. 18, 2007, but not all were on the home team’s bandwagon. Many cheered for the Mets, and they gave Hernandez (1-0) a big ovation when he left the game after 6 2-3 innings.

The 34-year-old right-hander needed a strong spring to win the fifth spot in the rotation after signing a minor league contract in February. He kept the Marlins off balance by changing speeds, such as when he struck out rookie Cameron Maybin with a 60 mph curve.

A 62 mph curve sent Hanley Ramirez almost spinning into the ground when he swung and missed. Ramirez and Jorge Cantu went a combined 0-for-6 against Hernandez, who gave up only six hits and two runs in the longest outing so far by a Mets starter.

Four relievers completed the victory. After Florida scored an unearned run in the ninth, new Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez came on to get the final two outs.

Castillo scored the game’s first two runs. He singled to start the second inning, advanced on a sacrifice and came home on a broken-bat double by Reyes.

Castillo led off the fourth with another single and again took second on a sacrifice by Hernandez. Reyes homered, Daniel Murphy singled and Delgado hit a two-out RBI double to make it 4-0.

Ryan Church singled to start the sixth and scored on Castillo’s single. It was still 5-0 in the seventh when the Marlins broke through against Hernandez with RBI singles by pinch-hitter Wes Helms and Bonifacio.

Back-to-back errors by first baseman Cantu and third baseman Bonifacio led to three unearned runs in the eighth.

Notes:@ LHP Johan Santana, who will start Sunday, has won all five of his career starts against Florida with an ERA of 1.83. … The Mets received a scare in the fifth when SS Reyes came up limping after Maybin slid into him trying to break up a double play. Reyes stayed in the game. … Nolasco fell to 2-6 with an ERA of 6.36 in 12 games against the Mets.


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