NEW YORK -- What began as a pitching duel that Noah Syndergaard won transformed into a game of attrition that favored the Marlins, who relied on a late spurt of offense Tuesday to topple the Mets, 2-1, at Citi Field.
Martin Prado hit a pinch-hit sacrifice fly off Jerry Blevins in the eighth inning to plate the go-ahead run, after Mets reliever Jim Henderson allowed three of the four batters he faced -- including leadoff man Dee Gordon, whose 16-pitch at-bat ended in a bloop single -- to reach base.
That gave the Marlins their second straight win over the Mets, who have dropped four consecutive games.
"Getting back to .500 today is good for us," Miami manager Don Mattingly said after his team reached .500 for the first time since being 12-12 on May 2, 2015. "We get a chance to sweep tomorrow."
One of the early season's most-anticipated pitching duels did live up to its billing, at least on the scoreboard. Both Syndergaard and Jose Fernandez allowed just one run, with Syndergaard striking out a dozen batters in seven innings. Fernandez was not nearly as dominant, pitching around significant trouble in the first and second, but he settled down to retire the final 10 batters he faced.
"This is the team that we have," Fernandez said. "We have a team that is not going to give up. It's going to get after it. This is all we can ask for. We're not giving up any innings. We're not giving up any outs. This is what's going to make this team special."
Both starting pitchers received no-decisions, though Syndergaard's was certainly tougher to stomach.
"It's still early in the season," Syndergaard said. "There's still a lot of baseball to be had."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Sweet 16 for Dee: Gordon, who fanned three times against Syndergaard, was determined to put the ball in play to lead off the eighth. The All-Star second baseman succeeded, but not after an exhausting showdown with hard-throwing reliever Henderson. Gordon capped a 16-pitch at-bat, the longest in franchise history, with a soft single to left. Building the drama was the fact that after the count was even at 2-2, Gordon fouled off 11 straight fastballs before getting the hit on an 87 mph slider. Gordon, who stole second, scored the go-ahead run on Prado's sacrifice fly. Twice previously, Gregg Zaun (Sept. 7, 1998 vs. Colorado) and Mike Lowell (July 25, 2001 against the Mets) had 15-pitch battles. More >
"You know what's weird, I thought it was like seven pitches," Gordon said. "When I looked up, it was like 13. I was like, 'All right.' And kept battling."
Electric Noah: Early on, Syndergaard had dynamic stuff, striking out five in a row and retiring the first eight batters he faced. Fernandez eked out an infield hit with two outs in the third inning, and Derek Dietrich plated the Marlins' first run with a single in the fourth. But Syndergaard was otherwise untouchable over seven innings, striking out 12.
"My gosh almighty, he was tremendous tonight," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "He did exactly what you wanted. He got us to the eighth inning. We just couldn't put anything on the board for him to work with, but he was outstanding."
Fernandez settles after loud out: The blustery conditions actually worked in Fernandez's favor in the third inning. With the Mets up a run, Yoenis Cespedes drove a deep drive to left that initially looked like a home run. But the ball held up and Christian Yelich, with his right hand touching the 358 marker on the wall, made the catch. Fernandez retired the final 10 he faced, including eight after the Cespedes out. The right-hander struck out the final four, with his last pitch a 98 mph fastball that struck out David Wright.
"Just getting in the zone, trying to get ahead of guys so we could use all of his stuff. I thought he did a good job of staying within himself," catcher Jeff Mathis said. "There were some pretty hairy situations there the first couple innings, and he was able to minimize that damage. That was good." More >
"I like to hit a lot. I was the luckiest man in the world today, I think. I went and looked at the video, and it was 100. I was like, 'OK.' Incredible that I made contact." -- Fernandez on his infield hit off Syndergaard with two outs in the third inning
"Jose Fernandez is never the remedy for a struggling offense." -- Wright
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
When Fernandez fanned Cespedes in the first inning, it was his 350th career strikeout.
Syndergaard's sixth career double-digit strikeout game matched Matt Harvey for the second-most in Mets history through 26 career starts. Only Dwight Gooden had more, with 11 double-digit strikeout games through his first 26.
ICHIRO'S BITTERSWEET MARK
It was a historical, yet bittersweet, first hit of the season for Ichiro Suzuki. Pinch-hitting in the seventh, Ichiro sent a ball in the hole at short. Asdrubal Cabrera made a nice stop and long throw to first, but Ichiro was ruled safe. On the play, Lucas Duda threw home to nab Dietrich, who doubled to open the inning, and tried to score from second. The hit moved Ichiro past Barry Bonds, his hitting coach, for 34th place all-time with 2,936 hits. Ichiro is 64 hits shy of 3,000. While the play wasn't reviewed, replays showed Ichiro actually was out at first.
Marcell Ozuna insisted he was safe, and replay agreed. Leading off the fourth inning, Ozuna grounded to second, and Neil Walker's throw caused Duda to stretch. The ruling was out, but Ozuna immediately signaled he was safe. Miami challenged, and the call was overturned as Duda's foot was off the base, giving Ozuna an infield single. The review took one minute, 39 seconds.
Marlins:Adam Conley's patience has been tested early this season. The lefty, the club's No. 3 starter, has logged just one inning because the elements and circumstances haven't gone in his favor. Last Thursday at Washington, Conley had to exit after one inning because the game was delayed 85 minutes. Last year, Conley posted a 0.96 ERA in 9 1/3 innings against the Mets.
Mets: Expect the Mets to trot out their lefty lineup for the first time this season when they face Conley in a 1:10 p.m. ET matinee at Citi Field. That means that either Michael Conforto or Curtis Granderson will sit, with Juan Lagares earning a start in the outfield. Logan Verrett will make a spot start on the mound in place of the injured Jacob deGrom.
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