Marlins use trio of long balls to defeat Mets

Marlins use trio of long balls to defeat Mets

JUPITER, Fla. -- The youthful Marlins, not loaded with power, relied on the long ball on Tuesday afternoon to beat the Mets, 7-5, at Roger Dean Stadium.

Casey Kotchman set the tone with a grand slam in the first inning, and Miami broke open the game with solo shots by Giancarlo Stanton and Matt Downs in the sixth.

Stanton, the main force in Miami's lineup, is aware that he may be pitched around.

"I've obviously learned from every year being here, every at-bat being here, but you can't really know that until you're in a situation with the guys in front or behind me," Stanton said. "At the end of the day, they still have to throw me strikes -- or not throw me strikes. I have to either walk to first or swing out of the zone and learn pretty quick."

Marlins right-hander Ricky Nolasco was efficient and effective in two scoreless innings, striking out one.

New York's Jenrry Mejia lasted just one inning, and it was a rough one, as he gave up five runs (four earned). Mejia was never able to get in a groove; of his 30 pitches, only 15 were strikes.

In his first Grapefruit League game, Kotchman made an immediate impact. The veteran had been out with four stitches in his left ring finger, an injury incurred after he ran into the machine that flips pop flies.

In camp on a Minor League contract, Kotchman is looking to earn a roster spot. His slam, a shot down the right-field line, gave the Marlins a comfortable early lead.

A Mets miscue -- an error by Mejia -- set the stage for the big inning. Juan Pierre dropped a bunt to open the frame, and when Mejia threw wildly, Pierre raced to third base. Placido Polanco's RBI single to center put Miami on the board. Rob Brantly singled and Austin Kearns walked to fill the bases for Kotchman, who provided the big blast.

New York pushed across two unearned runs in the third inning off Dan Jennings. Omar Quintanilla singled, and Jordany Valdespin reached on an infield hit. Shortstop Nick Green made a terrific stop on the grounder but threw high to first base. Quintanilla scored from first on the error, and Justin Turner later tapped a groundout that plated Valdespin.

Mets' pitching retired 14 straight after Kotchman's slam in the first before Miami regained a five-run lead in the sixth on the pair of solo home runs, off Hansel Robles. Stanton, on an 0-and-2 pitch, crushed a home run.  Three batters later, Downs also went deep.

The Mets scored three off Chris Hatcher in the eighth inning. Josh Satin hit an RBI single, Travis d'Arnaud added a sacrifice fly and Wilfredo Tovar collected a run-scoring single.

Up next: For the second time in four days, the Marlins are back in Viera to take on the Nationals. Nathan Eovaldi, a middle-of-the-rotation candidate, will make his first Grapefruit League start. Washington is starting Dan Haren. Adeiny Hechavarria and Donovan Solano are among the regulars making the trip, and Kyle Skipworth is expected to catch.

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.