Mets top griev­ing Mar­lins

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Steven Wine

MI­AMI >> The Mar­lins walked half a block along­side a hearse car­ry­ing their ace away from Mar­lins Park at the start of a fu­neral mo­tor­cade Wed­nes­day, and then peeled away with wa­tery eyes to go back in­side and play a game.

Drained by four days of griev­ing Jose Fer­nan­dez’s death, they didn’t have much left for the New York Mets.

Jay Bruce hit his 32nd home run, James Loney also home­red and the Mets helped their NL wild-card chances by beat­ing Mi­ami 5-2.

“It was tough to have a ton of emo­tion out there,” Mar­lins man­ager Don Mat­tingly said. “I think our guys did the best they pos­si­bly could. It’s just hard to make up emo­tion. It was just a rough game to play, to be hon­est.”

New York be­gan the night lead­ing the Gi­ants by half a game, and the Car­di­nals lost Wed­nes­day to fall 2 ½ games be­hind in the race for the two wild-card spots. The Mets con­clude the reg­u­lar sea­son with three games at Philadel­phia start­ing Fri­day.

The Mar­lins’ loss in their home fi­nale elim­i­nated them from play­off con­tention. De­spite high hopes this year, they still haven’t been to the post­sea­son since 2003.

That was the last thing on their minds five hours be­fore first pitch. They wore T-shirts read­ing “RIP” while clus­ter­ing around the limou­sine car­ry­ing Fer­nan­dez’s cas­ket to church for a view­ing. Spec­ta­tors, in­clud­ing Mets play­ers and man­ager Terry Collins, lined the start of the route.

“It was ter­ri­ble,” Mi­ami pitcher Tom Koehler said. “I never thought I’d have to be part of that. You have a 24-year-old who is on top of the world, and we’re walk­ing be­hind his hearse. We’re watch­ing Mi­ami’s hero drive down the street.”

Added re­liever Mike Dunn: “You felt like you were push­ing off your brother.”

Sym­pa­thetic as they are, the Mets are also in a tight wild-card race. Loney hit a two-run homer in the sec­ond, and Bruce added a two-run homer in the fifth off Jose Urena (4-9). Cur­tis Gran­der­son went 4 for 4, and Jose Reyes dou­bled home a run.

The Mets won the fi­nal two games of the se­ries af­ter los­ing an emo­tion-filled opener Mon­day.

“We made as much a trib­ute to Jose as we could with­out get­ting over­board with it,” Collins said. “We had games to play that are very mean­ing­ful to us. I thought the guys af­ter Mon­day night re­al­ized that we had to go out and play. We had some great at-bats the last cou­ple of nights.”

Seth Lugo (5-2) went 5 1/3 in­nings and al­lowed two runs, both on Martin Prado’s eighth homer.

Four re­liev­ers com­pleted a seven-hit­ter, and Jeurys Fa­milia pitched a per­fect ninth for his 50th save — with Fer­nan­dez on his mind.

“His pass­ing left us in a state of shock,” Fa­milia said in Span­ish. “It was very painful play­ing this se­ries, but at the same time, we wanted to ded­i­cate these games to him.”

When the se­ries fi­nale ended, sev­eral Mar­lins kneeled at the mound, hon­or­ing Fer­nan­dez one last time be­fore leav­ing the field. His pri­vate fu­neral is Thurs­day.

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