MIAMI -- The Marlins had to overcome a few things to outlast the Mets in Monday's Labor Day matinee: Zack Wheeler and his stellar career numbers against them, a pair of deficits, and perhaps most notably, losing Henderson Alvarez in the third inning.
As for the Mets, they couldn't get out of their own way in a six-error debacle.
Their best starter out with a left oblique strain, the Marlins got solid work from Brad Hand and four additional relievers to claim the series opener 9-6 at Marlins Park. The Mets made it a 6-6 game in the sixth but self-combusted in the eighth, committing three errors, throwing a wild pitch and walking three (two intentionally).
The Marlins weren't much better themselves out of the gate.
"We made some mistakes early, we made some defensive miscues with bad throws, you name it," said manager Mike Redmond, whose team trailed 4-2 through three. "After that third inning guys were hot. They came into the dugout and many guys, including myself, were very vocal about the way we were playing. After that we turned it up. That was good to see."
Jarrod Saltalamacchia scored the go-ahead run on a Jeurys Familia wild pitch after reaching on a double to start the inning. Eric Campbell made a diving attempt, but he couldn't hang on to Saltalamacchia's liner to left-center. It was the Marlins' lone hit of the eighth.
"We're not the kind of team that can come out and be flat, and just beat people that way," said Casey McGehee, who drew a bases-loaded walk that inning. "We've got to have a little bit of energy. Urgency I guess is a good word."
Though he pitched a pair of scoreless innings, it was clear Henderson Alvarez was not himself. Not until his 12th pitch in the second inning did he reach the 90-mph mark. In the third he hit 92 a handful of times before David Wright lined Alvarez's hardest pitch of the outing (93) into center for a two-run, bases-loaded single.
Redmond emerged with trainer Mike Kozak. Alvarez felt the oblique during his last outing against the Angels, but wanted to pitch through it Monday. He made his displeasure known, spiking the ball into Redmond's hand before exiting the field.
"All the foul tips I've taken in my life, that was nothing," Redmond said. "Felt like a feather. ... We tried to get him a couple of innings to get going and he just couldn't get it going."
Alvarez contributed to a third-inning mess that cost him a 2-0 lead. After giving up Dilson Herrera's first major league homer, a solo shot to start the inning, Alvarez fielded a Zack Wheeler sacrifice bunt and threw to second instead of taking the sure out. Wilmer Flores beat Alvarez's throw, and three batters later Wright delivered.
Marcell Ozuna came up throwing to third, but the ball sailed on the fly into the Marlins' dugout, allowing an unearned run to score and giving the Mets a two-run cushion.
"I wasn't 100 percent," said Alvarez, who was wrapped up before the game to calm the area. "I went out there to battle."
Fortunately for the Marlins, Zack Wheeler wasn't his usual dominant self at Marlins Park either. Wheeler on May 7 tossed six shutout innings in a no-decision and followed that up on June 19 with a three-hit complete-game blanking. In his first five career starts against the Marlins, Wheeler could boast a 2-0 record and 1.04 ERA.
Monday, Giancarlo Stanton welcomed him back to South Florida with a first-inning solo homer -- his National League leading 34th -- and the following inning Ozuna's RBI-triple made it 2-0.
"It took us a little bit to wake up, but once we did it was back to normal," McGehee said.
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