Published March 18, 2010
JUPITER, Fla. (AP) — Jeff Francouer and Jason Bay each hit a two-run home run to lead the New York Mets to a 5-2 win over the Florida Marlins on Thursday night.
Mets left-hander Oliver Perez didn't look like the pitcher who tossed four innings of no-hit ball in his last start. Perez gave up hits to six of the first 13 batters he faced, allowing two earned runs over four innings.
While Perez struggled, Marlins right-hander Ricky Nolasco struck out seven of the first 12 batters he faced. Nolasco, scheduled to face the Mets in the second game of the season in New York, was perfect through 4 1-3 innings before Bay doubled to right. Francouer followed with his first homer of the spring.
Nolasco, who struck out 16 Braves in his final start of the 2009 season, has 18 strikeouts in 14 innings over his first three starts this spring.
"As long as I'm not walking them," said Nolasco, who allowed two runs on two hits with no walks over five innings. "I'm not trying to strike guys out but I think when you pitch ahead and you get ahead of these guys, their susceptible to swing at a lot of different pitches. I was able to make good pitches."
Nolasco threw 23 of his first 30 pitches for strikes, and 45 of 63 by the end of his outing.
Perez, slated to be New York's No. 3 starter, said he settled down after allowing a run on three hits in the first inning.
"The more you keep your team in the game, you can get good results," he said. "Right away, we scored two runs. I think that's the job for a starting pitcher: just keep your team in the game and get it to the bullpen."
In the second inning, Perez gave up a two-out single to Nolasco and walked leadoff hitter Jai Miller before snagging a hard grounder to the mound for the final out.
The game was tied at 2 until Bay unloaded in the seventh inning against Renyel Pinto for a long homer over the 400-foot mark in center field.
Marlins shortstop Hanley Ramirez reached base in his first two at-bats on hard balls that third baseman David Wright couldn't handle. Ramirez was given a single and double in those at-bats, and he scored after the double in the third inning on Jorge Cantu's single to center.
The Marlins made an unusual but nifty defensive play to start the fifth inning when second baseman Dan Uggla backhanded Mike Jacobs' grounder while moving to his right. He flipped to Ramirez, who nailed Jacobs at first for the 4-6-3 ground out.
The game was the Marlins' only night contest of the spring.
"It felt great, to be honest with you. I love night games," Nolasco said. "I think players elevate their game under the lights. Under the lights it's like, 'OK, this is the show.' It's like stepping on a stage."
Pedro Feliciano, the Mets' primary lefty specialist, left the game in the seventh after being hit in the right knee cap by a Brett Hayes grounder. Manager Jerry Manuel took him out as a precaution after watching Feliciano throw two warm-up pitches.
"I kicked it, kept it in front of me," Feliciano said. "I told Jerry I was fine but he didn't want me to risk it. I'll be out there tomorrow."
NOTES: Marlins C John Baker (sore right forearm) hit a home run in a minor league game and could rejoin the team this weekend along with OF Mike Stanton (hyper-extended left elbow), who felt fine after taking 25 swings off a tee.