Mets-Marlins Preview

The Miami Marlins are feeling confident following an impressive

road trip, but that may be short-lived if they can’t find a way to

solve Johan Santana and the New York Mets.

Miami looks to snap a five-game losing streak to the surging

Mets on Friday night when it faces Santana, who has dominated the

Marlins throughout his career.

Miami (16-15) went 8-1 on a trip that ended a 5-3, 12-inning

victory over Houston on Wednesday. Omar Infante drove in two runs

on a bases-loaded single in the 12th after Steve Cishek blew the

save in the ninth.

“We got the win, that’s all that matters,” starter Josh Johnson

told the Marlins’ official website after going seven innings. “It

was an unbelievable road trip. … Maybe we can go back home and

start something there and keep winning ball games.”

Despite the outstanding road swing, the closer problem follows

the Marlins home, though Heath Bell pitched a scoreless 10th inning

Wednesday. Bell was demoted from the spot after blowing four saves

in seven chances.

“I want to see him throw the ball the way he did today with

confidence,” manager Ozzie Guillen said. “I believe we’re a better

ball club with him as a closer.”

Miami, 6-5 at home, could see its momentum come to a quick halt

if it can’t change its fortunes against Santana and the Mets

(18-13).

Santana (1-2, 2.61 ERA) has posted a 1.83 ERA in his last three

starts – all Mets wins – and is coming off his first victory since

Sept. 2, 2010, before shoulder surgery kept him out last season.

He’s been even more effective against the Marlins in his career,

going 6-1 with a 1.46 ERA in 10 starts, including an 0.84 ERA in

the last six.

The left-hander faced the Marlins for the first time in nearly

two years April 24, giving up one run and striking out 11 in 6 2-3

innings of a 2-1 home victory.

Santana finally got his long-awaited win Saturday, allowing

three runs in seven innings to beat Arizona 4-3.

”He’s been throwing the ball really well – probably should have

had a couple of wins already by now,” catcher Mike Nickeas

said.

Santana will be opposed by fellow left-hander Mark Buehrle (2-4,

2.83), who’s coming off a superb outing that followed his shortest

start of the season.

Buehrle threw a five-hitter to defeat San Diego 4-1 on Saturday,

bouncing back from a five-inning stint in which he gave up seven

runs – four earned – in a 9-5 loss to the Diamondbacks on April

30.

He pitched well in his first career start against the Mets,

giving up two runs on a David Wright homer in seven innings April

25, but suffered a 5-1 loss.

“It starts with starting pitching,” Buehrle told the Marlins’

official website. “We’ve got to come out and throw zeros to give

the offense a chance to get going. When we were playing them (in

April), we weren’t playing well. Hopefully things will turn.”

The Mets swept that three-game series to extend their run in the

series to five, and surprising New York brings an overall five-game

winning streak into Friday after beating Philadelphia 10-6 on

Wednesday.

The Mets overcame a 4-2 deficit, scoring three times in the

seventh before Ike Davis hit a three-run homer in the eighth. New

York is five games above .500 for the first time since July 19,

2010.

The Mets rallied in the seventh inning or later in all three

contests against the Phillies.

“We’re playing pretty good baseball right now and getting good

results,” shortstop Justin Turner said.

The Mets’ last six-game winning streak was April 21-27,

2011.