NEW YORK (AP) — Wes Helms slid home headfirst to barely beat Rod Barajas' sweeping tag, scoring on Ronny Paulino's pinch-hit single to help the Florida Marlins beat the New York Mets 7-6 after their flimsy bullpen wasted a terrific outing by Ricky Nolasco.
Helms' hand swiped the plate just ahead of Barajas' lunging play, and the Marlins earned their first win of the season.
Leo Nunez (1-0) walked in a run among three free passes and balked in the tying score over 1 1-3 innings, but came away with the win in the 4 hour, 12 minute game. Tim Wood pitched the 10th for his first career save.
Hisanori Takahashi (0-1) gave up a run in the 10th for New York.
Nolasco was cruising before he walked the first two batters of the seventh with the Marlins leading 6-1. The right-hander departed after Barajas hit a sacrifice fly for the second out of the inning, and his bullpen gave it all back.
It could've been worse but the Mets, plagued by mental gaffes last season when they went 70-92, ran out of a bases-loaded rally in the seventh. Veras' first pitch of the night deflected off catcher John Baker with David Wright at the plate, and Fernando Tatis tried to score. Baker made a nice throw to Veras, who tagged Tatis for the final out.
The Mets tied it in the eighth. Nunez, who relieved with the bases loaded, walked Tatis and balked while pitching to Alex Cora, scoring Gary Matthews Jr. to tie it at 6.
Hanley Ramirez, Jorge Cantu and Dan Uggla homered for the Marlins, who finished with 17 hits.
Florida manager Fredi Gonzalez said before the game that Nolasco was a top-tier No. 2 starter, and he lived up to his praise. Nolasco allowed just three hits, including Alex Cora's leadoff triple, and struck out five.
The Marlins' bullpen gave it away, though.
Wright and Mike Jacobs singled leading off the eighth, and Wright scored when Jason Bay grounded into a fielder's choice and Uggla threw the relay away for the Marlins first error of the night and fourth of the series.
NOTES: Marlins OF Brett Carroll, on the 15-day disabled list with a strained oblique, should start a rehabilitation assignment in Jupiter on Thursday or Friday. ... Mets 20-year-old rookie Jenrry Mejia gave up an RBI double to Gaby Sanchez in his first appearance. ... Mets starter John Maine gave up four runs in five innings.