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Encarnacion perfect in past 10 at-bats


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Encarnacion perfect in past 10 at-bats


By Juan C. Rodriguez

Staff Writer

Posted July 3 2005


NEW YORK ? Juan Encarnacion wasn't oblivious. He knew the significance of his ninth-inning at-bat Saturday at Shea Stadium. It would have been difficult not to, considering Encarnacion had reached base each of his previous nine turns.


He didn't produce the desired result, but Encarnacion still came away with a share of a franchise record during the 7-3 Marlins victory.


"I wanted to hit it far," said Encarnacion, was was grazed on the hand by a Danny Graves pitch during the bases-loaded at-bat. "I didn't want to get on like that."


Encarnacion's four-hit, three-RBI effort highlighted the Marlins' seventh win in 10 games. They have now scored six or more runs and had double-digit hit totals in a season-high four consecutive games.


The long-overdue beneficiary of Saturday's offensive flurry was Brian Moehler (3-6), who entered the game tied for the National League's third-worst run support (3 per nine innings). Moehler allowed three runs on nine hits through 51/3 innings en route to snapping a career-high eight-start winless streak.


"I told you guys it all evens out," said Moehler, who gave up a two-out, two-run double to Carlos Beltran during the Mets' three-run fifth. "I had poor location. The hitters deserve most of the credit."


Starting with Encarnacion. He joined Derrek Lee (September 2002) as the only Marlins to reach base in 10 consecutive plate appearances. Encarnacion, who went 2 for 2 with three walks Friday, singled in each of his first four at-bats Saturday before the hit by pitch.


Three of his past six hits have gone to center field or the opposite way to right.


"[Today] he needs to get hit again so he can break [the record]," said reliever Valerio de los Santos, Encarnacion's cousin.


Encarnacion is just as likely to do it making contact. Over his past four games he is 10 for 16 (.625) with two homers, eight RBI and four walks. His average has risen 21 points to .287 and his on-base percentage 26 points to .368 during that span.


"Juan is doing what he did in Detroit," said Moehler, a teammate with the Tigers from 1998-2001. "We had [Juan] Gonzalez hitting behind him, and he really started to go the other way. I've seen him do this before."


Moehler also has seen Paul Lo Duca come through in the clutch. What began as a day off ended with a 1-for-3 performance with an RBI. During the four-run Marlins sixth off starter Kris Benson (6-3), Lo Duca's pinch-hit, two-out single produced a 5-3 lead.


That the Mets opted to pitch to Lo Duca with two outs and a runner on third was a curious decision, considering the light-hitting Moehler was on deck.


"I didn't even think about it," Lo Duca said. "I knew Lenny [Harris] was on deck for a little while."


In addition to the clutch hitting -- the Marlins were 5 for 14 (.357) with runners in scoring position -- Saturday's win also featured clutch pitching.


With one out and the bases loaded after three straight singles, de los Santos entered in relief of Moehler. Pinch hitter Miguel Cairo swung at the first pitch, a changeup, and grounded it to Damion Easley at third for a 5-3, inning-ending double play.


"Truth is, if the manager calls me I don't find any situation difficult," de los Santos said. "If he has confidence in me, I have to have confidence in myself. ... You have to use intelligence against [the hitters'] aggressiveness."


Guillermo Mota and Todd Jones employed plenty of aggressiveness in combining to retire nine of the last 10 Mets batters.


Sun Sentinel

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