Marlins denied 10th straight win

MIAMI (AP) -- Kris Benson looked like a money pitcher Thursday,

helping the New York Mets put an end to three streaks.

Rejuvenated after skipping one turn in the rotation, Benson

gained some leverage in ongoing contract talks by pitching a

shutout into the seventh inning, and struggling New York cooled off

the Florida Marlins, 4-0.

The Mets snapped an 11-game losing streak while stopping the

Marlins' franchise record-tying nine-game winning streak. New York

also ended a run of 10 consecutive losses to Florida.

"Kris gave us exactly what we needed -- a bunch of zeros on the

board," Mets manager Art Howe said.

Benson (11-11) had been idle since Aug. 29 while nursing a sore

shoulder. He can become a free agent after this season and has been

talking with the Mets about a multiyear deal.

"As far as negotiations are concerned, it has been pretty

quiet," he said. "I think they've been waiting to see that my

arm's not going to fall off when I go out and pitch, which is

smart. At the same time, I knew nothing would happen ... so

hopefully things will pick up and we'll be able to get things done

in a hurry."

Benson limited Florida to five hits and a walk in six-plus

innings. He improved to 3-3 since joining New York, with an ERA of


"One start off did wonders," he said. "I came into today with

a lot of confidence knowing that I had some rest, and my arm felt


The Marlins' recent surge has put them in the thick of the race

for the NL wild-card berth. They had three extra-base hits and put

their leadoff batter on base four times but stranded four runners

in scoring position.

"You can't win them all," said Juan Pierre, who reached base

three times and extended his hitting streak to 16 games. "We had a

lot of opportunities to score runs and just didn't do the job. We

didn't execute in situations we've been executing in."

Bartolome Fortunato pitched two innings, escaping a jam in the

seventh, and Braden Looper threw a perfect ninth to complete the

Mets' first shutout since May 25.

New York totaled 11 hits even with Mike Piazza and Cliff Floyd

taking the day off. Eric Valent, who started for a slumping Floyd,

hit his 11th home run in the fifth to make it 2-0 against Ismael

Valdez (12-8).

With the area recovering from Hurricane Frances and bracing for

Hurricane Ivan, announced attendance was 13,102, but the actual

crowd on a sunny, 87-degree afternoon numbered perhaps 4,000.

Following their first defeat since Aug. 26, the Marlins headed

to Wrigley Field for a crucial four-game series. Florida and the

Chicago Cubs are among five teams in a tight wild-card race.

"We've got to win," Marlins right-hander Josh Beckett said.

"It doesn't matter how we do it. If the wind's blowing out, we

need to win 10-9. If it's blowing in, we need to win 1-0."

The Cubs and Marlins will meet for the first time since Florida

won last year's NL championship series at Wrigley Field.

"Those fans will probably be intense," Pierre said. "We'll

probably have 30,000 or 40,000 fans screaming at us and remembering

what we did to them last year."

The Mets were still in the wild-card chase just two weeks ago,

but now they're playing the role of spoiler. New York took a lead

for the first time in 60 innings when Mike Cameron doubled in the

second and scored on a single by Jason Phillips.

"I don't remember the last time we had the lead," Howe said.

"Was it 1959? That's what it seems like."

Wilson Delgado doubled home a run in the seventh. David

Weathers, signed Wednesday by Florida, gave up a run in the eighth

when David Wright tripled and Richard Hidalgo singled him home.

Trailing 2-0, Florida had runners at the corners with one out in

the sixth. After Paul Lo Duca tapped out, Miguel Cabrera's sharp

grounder deflected off Benson's glove to shortstop Delgado, whose

wide throw to first was snagged by a diving Todd Zeile for the out

to end the threat.

"About time it caromed to somebody, instead of away from

somebody," Howe said.

Florida had runners at first and third with none out in the

seventh, but Fortunato retired the next three batters.

"It was one of those days," Marlins manager Jack McKeon said.

"Things just didn't click. You can't expect to do it every night.

You've got your streak over. Start a new one."<

Game notes

In three starts against New York this year, Valdez is

1-2 with an ERA of 6.46. ... Zeile went 0-for-3 on his 39th

birthday. ... The Mets may not be playing well lately, but they're

playing fast. The time of the three games in Miami was 2:34, 2:33

and 2:34.