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FLA@NYM: Batista earns 100th career win in Mets debut

NEW YORK -- Amidst the turnover and inconsistency of the past three seasons in Flushing, it is worth noting that the Mets entered Thursday's play having used the same five-man rotation for a franchise-record 106 consecutive games. Other than a skipped start here and a flip-flop there, their pitching had gone unchanged.

Enter Miguel Batista, who snapped that streak Thursday and who, at the opposite end of baseball's consistency spectrum, became the third active pitcher to play for at least 10 franchises. His latest uniform was bright blue and orange -- Los Mets colors -- which he wore throughout the Mets' 7-5 victory over the Marlins.

"He doesn't get rattled," manager Terry Collins said. "He knows what he's got to do."

Replacing the injured Jon Niese in the rotation, Batista used two critical pitches to recover from a rocky start and hold Florida to two runs over six innings. After the first two Marlins batters each reached base in the third and sixth innings, Batista induced double-play grounders from Logan Morrison and Gaby Sanchez to squelch those threats.

"I think I was a little too eager to get this game out of the way," Batista said. "I believe I wasn't nervous -- I think I'm too old for that. Just a little anxious to start the game and get it going. But I had a lot of crazy movement on my fastball today, and it took me a little while to settle down and get it to actually sink over the plate. That's what I was trying to do the most."

Once Bobby Parnell escaped a ninth-inning jam -- partially of D.J. Carrasco's making -- to record his fourth consecutive save, Batista became the 584th Major League pitcher to win 100 games.

"I'm very proud of my career," said Batista, who plans to present an inscribed baseball from the game to his mother. "You don't see many guys winning 100 games."

It was a welcome sight for the Mets, who invited Batista into their rotation in the hopes that he might help them establish some consistency in September. Signed to a Minor League contract as rotation insurance earlier this summer, the 40-year-old -- a veteran of the Pirates, Marlins, Cubs, Expos, Royals, D-Backs, Blue Jays, Mariners and Cardinals -- allowed nothing after the Marlins touched him for early runs on Mike Stanton's sacrifice fly in the first inning and Emilio Bonifacio's RBI double in the second.

He left with a two-run lead, which the Mets extended during a nine-batter rally in the eighth. Lucas Duda, who had already chased Marlins starter Clay Hensley from the game with a bases-loaded walk in the third inning, keyed that late offense with a run-scoring double.

Duda's walk, however, was more critical to the overall flow of the game. Making Hensley pay for loading the bases on an error, a single and a hit batsman, the Mets broke the game open thanks to Duda's patience and David Wright's two-run single against reliever Burke Badenhop, affording Batista some always-appreciated margin for error.

"I've had a lot of success against Wright," Badenhop said. "The problem is, I want to throw a strike there. He knows I want to throw a strike there."

For Badenhop and the Marlins, that was indeed an issue. And in his Mets debut, Batista exacerbated it, taking his newfound lead and retiring the next six hitters he faced -- half of them on his only three strikeouts of the evening.

"I was really impressed with how hard he threw," Collins said, referencing pitches as fast as 93 mph.

It was a fine moment for Batista, albeit an isolated one. One member of the team's hierarchy said Thursday that he expects either Chris Schwinden or Pat Misch -- two Minor League pitchers whom the organization intends to retain next season -- to start ahead of Batista in five days' time. And that makes sense considering the direction of the club.

If not for concerns over Schwinden's workload -- he has already thrown a career-high 144 1/3 innings and counting -- he would be the choice given his strong season at Triple-A. Either way, with Niese out for at least another week, it is not likely to be Batista.

But this was nonetheless a memorable evening for the right-hander, who began his career with the Pirates in 1992, won a World Series with the D-backs in 2001 and is now pitching for his fourth organization in the last three years. His mother already has his World Series ring on display, among other artifacts of his career. Now she has a commemorative ball to go along with them.

"She actually collects everything I've ever won," Batista said laughing. "I don't know what she has."

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