So it was appropriate that the New York bullpen found itself in another squeaker Sunday against Florida. This time, Heilman, Wagner and Co. came through, giving the Mets a chance to get the bats going late in a confidence-building 10-4 win over the Marlins.
"It's always good when you get the opportunity to pitch the next day," said Heilman, who gave up an eighth-inning, two-run single to Miguel Cabrera in a 7-5 loss Saturday night. "You can't let yesterday affect today."
This time, Moises Alou's second home run of the game gave the Mets a 5-4 lead in the sixth. Jorge Sosa (8-6) then pitched the second of his two scoreless innings, Heilman worked a perfect eighth and Wagner closed it out with a 1-2-3 ninth for the Mets, who avoided a three-game sweep.
"The guys are very capable," Wagner said. "A lot of the things that happened the last few nights were very flukish."
"It wasn't the homestand we wanted, but we got it done in the end," manager Willie Randolph said.
Hanley Ramirez hit a leadoff homer for the Marlins, who had won three in a row.
"It was just too bad we couldn't close this one out, but taking two out of three here is a good thing for us. It's a good team over here, a tough environment here. It was a good series for us," Marlins first baseman Jason Wood said.
Alou has seven home runs this season -- and three two-homer games. It was his 31st career multihomer game.
"I feel good at the plate right now," Alou said. "Unfortunately, we had a rough series. It's nice to go into a day off with a victory."
But after three consecutive difficult losses, this victory was far from pretty for the Mets. Backup catcher Ramon Castro left with an injury on the same day starter Paul Lo Duca went on the disabled list because of a strained right hamstring, and the near-capacity crowd sat through some sloppy play in the field.
On a play at the plate in the third, Castro was unable to hold onto right fielder Shawn Green's throw that would have nailed Cody Ross. It would have been a nice payback; Ross threw out Reyes at home on Saturday night.
The next batter, Matt Treanor, popped up to left but Alou lost the ball in the sun and could only crouch, protecting his face as the ball came down 10 feet behind him for a single.
With Ross on first in the fifth inning, Oliver Perez bounced a pickoff throw past Delgado. When Ross tried for second, Delgado threw the ball into left field. Ross ended up at third on the two throwing errors.
Castro's replacement, Mike DiFelice, picked up his teammates by picking off Ross at third base for the final out of the inning.
Castro left after three innings because of back discomfort that likely was sustained on the play at the plate. Randolph said it was a lower back strain and Castro went for an MRI exam during the game. He's day to day.
The Mets broke it open with five runs in the eighth. Delgado hit a two-run shot an estimated 445 feet to center off Taylor Tankersley, his 18th homer of the season. Luis Castillo's RBI single made it 8-4, and pinch-hitter Lastings Milledge capped the outburst with a two-run single on a hit-and-run.
When Reyes broke for second, so did Marlins second baseman Dan Uggla, who tried to get back to field Milledge's grounder but let the ball deflect off his glove and into the outfield. The speedy Reyes never stopped running and scored from first -- without a slide -- on the infield single.
Uggla was slow to retrieve the ball. His throw home was in time but wide, and Reyes kicked Treanor in the head and knocked the ball free as the catcher lunged across the plate.
"I just wanted to run a little bit," a smiling Reyes said.
Ramirez hit Perez's third pitch to left for his 21st homer. It was his fifth leadoff home run this year, and second in less than a week. He also did it at Philadelphia on Tuesday.
Perez allowed four runs and six hits in five innings with four walks and four strikeouts.
The Marlins erased a 3-1 deficit in the third on Ross' RBI single and Wood's two-run single, which culminated with the play at the plate.
Reyes tied the score at 4-4 with a leadoff homer in the third, his ninth.
- The Mets honored 300-game winner Tom Glavine with a pregame ceremony that delayed the start by 29 minutes.
- Uggla, slumping on the road trip, did not start. Alfredo Amezaga started at 2B for Florida.
- Lo Duca, who was expected to get an MRI exam Sunday, will instead have one Monday.