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MIA@SD: Buehrle goes the distance for the win

A National League East showdown awaits Friday's series opener between the Mets and Marlins and both teams enter playing their best baseball of the season.

The Mets take a five-game winning streak into the match after starting off their six-game road stand by sweeping the Phillies, capped off with a 10-6 win Wednesday.

Miami, meanwhile, went a franchise-best 8-1 on a three-city road trip and took two of three from the Astros after sweeping the Giants and Padres.

A battle of two left-handers will kick off the first of a three-game set, as Mets ace Johan Santana will take on Mark Buehrle.

Buehrle is confident his Marlins will have a better showing against the Mets than the first time the two teams met, when Miami was swept at Citi Field back in April.

"It starts with starting pitching," said Buehrle, who's coming off a complete-game victory that improved his record to 2-4. "We've got to come out and throw zeroes to give the offense a chance to get going. When we were playing them [before], we weren't playing well. Hopefully things will turn."

Santana is coming off a strong outing himself, and earned his first win of the season after pitching a season-high seven innings in a 4-3 victory over the D-backs. The southpaw has been impressive in his return to the mound after missing all of 2011, as his ERA stands at 2.61 while he's averaging 9.87 strikeouts per nine innings, the fourth best mark in the National League.

"That's what aces do," Mets manager Terry Collins said following Santana's last start, which snapped New York's four-game losing skid and was his first victory since September 2010. "They stop streaks. They stop losing streaks. They take it upon themselves to do that. They know when times are tough, they've got to raise their games up. He's that guy."

In 10 career starts against the Marlins, Santana is 6-1 with a sparkling 1.46 ERA. It's his best winning percentage against any team he has faced at least 10 times.

Mets: Wright rolling
All-Star David Wright has been leading the charge offensively for the Mets and has been among the hottest hitters in the game since the start of the season.

Wright is fourth in the NL with a .376 average and 1.030 OPS -- both of which are the top marks among all Major League third basemen -- and has tallied a hit in all but four games this year.

He has also reached base safely in 26 of his 28 games after collecting a pair of hits in Wednesday's win over Philadelphia.

• Friday's contest will mark the Mets' 8,000th game in team history.

The Mets and the Padres are the only teams that have failed to throw a no-hitter.

Marlins: Stanton picking up the slack offensively
Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton is back on track after snapping a career-long home run drought of 97 at-bats on April 29.

Over his last 11 games, Stanton has six homers and has driven in 12 runs, collecting at least one base hit in 10 of them.

"You can't practice this game in game speed," Stanton said. "So no matter how good you feel in practice, it doesn't always click right away in the game. You've just got to realize that."

All-Stars Jose Reyes and Hanley Ramirez have been struggling, both batting under .235, making Stanton's production even more important to Miami.

• Emilio Bonifacio was dropped from second to seventh in the lineup for Wednesday's contest against the Astros. The center fielder entered the game hitting .179 (7-for-39) over his last 10 but Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen doesn't see the switch lasting long.

"Move him down and let him relax a little bit, that pressure to be on base and do stuff for the team," Guillen said. "Hopefully that will work for a couple of days and then go back to where he belongs. I think we have a better team with Boni at the top of the lineup."

Bonifacio responded by going 2-for-6, scoring a run and collecting his first extra-base hit of the season with a sixth-inning double.

Worth noting
• The Mets are five games over .500 for the first time since July 19, 2010, and have won five in a row for the first time since July 25-29, 2011.

• Miami has dropped five straight to New York and has only two wins over the last 11 meetings between the two clubs. Comments