Lima roughed up by Willis, Marlins

Lima roughed up by Willis, Marlins

NEW YORK -- Several times this season, the possibility of Darren Oliver making a start has come up. And this week, when Pedro Martinez went on the 15-day disabled list because of his sore hip, the Mets brass discussed it again. But in the end, Jose Lima returned from the Minors to take the mound instead.

After a 7-3 Mets loss to the Marlins on Friday, in which Lima struggled and Oliver shined, the Mets reconsidered. Lima dropped his fourth start in a row as a Met as the Marlins scored once in the first and six more times in the fourth to move one game up in the standings, albeit still behind by 12 1/2 games.

Lima (0-4, 9.87 ERA) left after facing seven batters in the fourth inning and allowing seven hits and seven runs, five earned, with two walks and two strikeouts. After the game, the 33-year-old right-hander was designated for assignment as the Mets called up Mike Pelfrey to make his Major League debut on Saturday.

"I came here to help the Mets because I want to be a Met and be a part of this playoff team," said Lima, who threw 71 pitches, 41 strikes. "They wanted me here to get the job done and I didn't get the job done. They give me the chance to compete and I just couldn't finish the job."

Lima allowed an unearned run in the first inning, got through the second inning despite a hit and a walk, breezed through the third facing only three batters, and then was forced from the game in the fourth when he allowed the first six batters of the inning to reach base.

Lima started the fourth by walking Miguel Cabrera and giving up a double to Mike Jacobs. A throwing error by David Wright allowed Josh Willingham to reach, loading the bases. Jeremy Hermida singled to left-center to score Cabrera.

Matt Treanor singled through the hole at short to bring in Jacobs to make the score 3-0. Then, Marlins starting pitcher Dontrelle Willis gave himself plenty to work with when he turned on a high fastball on the first pitch, sending it deep over the right-field wall for the first grand slam of his career. Lima allowed a single to Alfredo Amezaga after the grand slam and Mets manager Willie Randolph finally pulled the plug on his starter.

"Hitters are going to jump on you when you leave the ball up in the zone and you don't locate pitches," said Randolph. "With Willis, you know he's a good-hitting pitcher and a good athlete. You can't treat him any different from their regular hitters. Jose was just out of synch there and it cost him."

The last pitcher to hit a grand slam prior to Willis was the Phillies' Robert Person on June 2, 2002, off the Expos' Bruce Chen. The Marlins had one other pitcher in the club's history do so, which occurred on May 29, 1995, off the bat of Chris Hammond at Houston.

Oliver replaced Lima and the 35-year-old left-hander pitched brilliantly. He finished with five innings of one-hit, scoreless ball with four strikeouts and two walks, lowering his ERA to 2.15.

"He's invaluable and you can't put a price on what he means to our team," said Randolph. "Another tremendous effort by him and it's a shame we couldn't do more to have gotten him a win."

The Mets rallied in the fifth when Chris Woodward hit a one-out solo homer to left off Willis. After Carlos Beltran grounded out, Wright singled to left-center, followed by a single from Julio Franco. Xavier Nady (2-for-4, two doubles) then doubled to deep center to score Wright and Franco. Eli Marrero reached on a infield single and the 41,276 in attendance at Shea Stadium began to chant, "Let's Go Mets!" But after a conference with his catcher, Willis bore down and struck out Ramon Castro to end the inning. Willis (6-7, 3.94), who threw 125 pitches -- 76 for strikes -- went 7 1/3 innings and allowed nine hits and three runs with five walks and nine strikeouts. He's now allowed three earned runs or fewer in each of his past four starts.

In the ninth, 27-year-old right-hander Henry Owens made his Major League debut for the Mets and pitched a hitless, scoreless inning. He became the fourth Met to make his debut this season, joining right-handed pitchers Brian Bannister and Alay Soler and outfielder Lastings Milledge.

Jose Reyes left the game after the sixth inning when he cut his left pinky finger sliding into first base on a groundout. The Mets shortstop received seven stitches in his finger and is day-to-day.

Chris Girandola is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.