Perez, Mets cruise in finale in Miami

Perez, Mets cruise in finale in Miami

MIAMI -- Left-hander Oliver Perez never gave the Marlins a chance Wednesday night at Dolphin Stadium. And the Mets' offense hit as if this were a slow-pitch softball game.

The result was a rollicking 13-0 victory for New York that saddled Florida with its largest shutout defeat at home in team history.

Perez, coming off a 15-10 season, stopped the Marlins on five hits over six scoreless innings, striking out eight. That the stellar performance came a night after the Mets lost No. 2 pitcher Pedro Martinez for four to six weeks with a strained left hamstring proved to be one of Perez's finest moments as a Met.

"He's on a plain where he knows what he needs to do," third baseman David Wright said. "What he did in the shadow of Pedro going down is big."

Manager Willie Randolph, who had said earlier that Perez doesn't realize just how good he can be, praised the left-hander extensively in the postgame glow of victory.

"I'd like to bottle that and put it away," Randolph said. "He was awesome tonight. He was in a zone and threw his offspeed pitches where he wanted. All his pitches looked crisp. He stayed in his rhythm and didn't freelance like he can do."

With Martinez out, Perez now is on target to pitch the Mets' home opener next Tuesday against the Phillies.

"That's fine," Perez said, sounding unfazed. "I just have to be ready and just play baseball."

By the time Perez left, the Mets had a 10-0 bulge. They wound up with 17 hits, with Wright, Carlos Beltran and Ryan Church getting three apiece. Church and Wright hit home runs.

Beltran apparently should have had one when replays showed his long fly to right-center field in the fifth inning hit the telltale yellow line at the top of the wall. Second-base umpire Rick Reed, closest to the play, agreed, yet he was overruled by the other umpires.

"I don't understand how the guy closest to the ball could be overruled," Randolph said.

Neither could Beltran.

"That's why I believe in the replay," he said. "You could have at least one a game for each team. Right now, it didn't mean anything because we were ahead by five runs. But what if we were losing by two runs or one run? That can cost a game."

Beltran had to settle for three doubles in the game, one driving in a run. Wright added a three-run home run in the sixth, a shot estimated to travel 433 feet. The third baseman extended his hitting streak over two seasons to 20 games with a third-inning single.

"I feel good at the plate and you've got to take advantage of it when you feel that way," Wright said. "This can be a fickle game."

The Mets scored three runs in the second, two on a home run down the right-field line by Church, and produced runs in the third and fifth, but blew the game open with a five-run sixth.

The game allowed Church to show he can hit a left-hander, which was Andrew Miller, the touted acquisition from Detroit in the trade for third baseman Miguel Cabrera. Church realized from watching video that Miller had control issues and made mistakes.

"So I just had to stay with him," Church said.

He hit a hanging slider for the homer. That was a particularly rewarding moment for Mets coach Howard Johnson, who regularly talks with Church between at-bats and has helped him make adjustments to his swing.

"He's good -- much better a hitter than anybody thought, including himself," Johnson said. "He gets it on how to make adjustments."

This easiest kind of victory allowed the Mets to take the season-opening series, 2-1. They had lost the second game, 5-4, in 10 innings. In the process of prevailing, the Mets showed some of what closer Billy Wagner had said the team needed in the wake of losing Martinez -- resilience.

Randolph said he wasn't worried.

"We don't trip on stuff like that," the manager said. "I mean, we've been a solid team since I've been here. We just love to play and get after it. That's why I love this group here -- they don't make excuses, they just play."

Wright tried to sum up the attitude of the Mets players in this situation.

"As players, we don't have the luxury of sitting around watching and wondering what if," he said. "We've got to go out and get the job done, regardless of who isn't there. While Pedro is down, teams are coming after us. We've got to be ready."

Charlie Nobles is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.