NEW YORK -- All it took were injuries to their two best players for the Mets to transform into one of the National League's most potent teams.
New York's offense remained at a boiling point throughout Saturday's 11-3 win over the Marlins, the Mets' third straight victory and their sixth in eight games. For the fourth time in five nights, the Mets batted around in an inning, scoring five runs off Marlins spot starter Odrisamer Despaigne while sending 11 men to the plate in the first.
"You talk about different guys coming through," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "That's how we're going to have to do it. We've got to spread the wealth around."
Michael Conforto walked three times, including twice with the bases loaded, and the Mets took advantage of three Marlins errors to pull away from their reeling rivals. Since losing Noah Syndergaard to injury and a 23-5 game to the Nationals on April 30, the Mets have averaged 9.8 runs per game. And that total has come without Yoenis Cespedes, who is also on the disabled list.
"It's been a welcome sight for the offense to surge here lately," said Mets outfielder Jay Bruce, who drove home three runs.
The Marlins are riding an opposite sort of wave, losing nine of 11 to fall behind the Mets in the NL East standings. Despaigne was a replacement starter for Wei-Yin Chen, who is on the DL with a tired arm.
"We just get off to the bad first inning, honestly," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "They hit a couple of balls right on the nose on us. We get down quick. We kind of get back in it there. When they throw the three-spot back up [in the fifth after Ozuna's homer], it just kind of killed us there in the middle. We get two and they get three back."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Batting around: The first-inning rally began with a Justin Bour error, and it continued on back-to-back RBI doubles by Asdrubal Cabrera and Bruce. Three walks -- including one from Conforto with the bases loaded -- and a hit batsman only added fuel to the fire.
"It wasn't the nerves or emotions or anything," said Despaigne, making his first MLB start since Sept. 15, 2015, for the Padres against the Giants. "I did kind of lose it a little bit after the error at first base. But ultimately what cost me was all those walks."
Powering up: For a few moments at least, the Marlins made things tight when Ozuna homered to make it a 5-3 game in the fifth. Ozuna's 10th home run ensured that he would retain the team lead over Stanton, who went deep in the second. But it wasn't enough; in the bottom of the inning, the Mets scored three more to pull away for good.
"I'd say we just have to play better. I wouldn't go any further than that. You don't blame people. You don't do any of that. You just come tomorrow ready to play and do better." -- Bour, on Miami's struggles
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
With Christian Yelich (tight hamstring) getting the night off, Ichiro Suzuki started for Miami in center field. At 43 years and 196 days, Ichiro is the second-oldest player to start in center. Per the Elias Sports Bureau, Rickey Henderson, who was 43 years, 211 days, was the oldest (on July 24, 2002).
FROM THE TRAINER'S ROOM
Cabrera injured the thumb on his glove hand attempting to field Ozuna's single in the third inning, leaving the game at that time before a 39-minute rain delay. X-rays on Cabrera's thumb were negative, but the shortstop will undergo an MRI exam on Sunday to search for any ligament damage. If Cabrera misses significant time, it could open the door for top prospect Amed Rosario to make his big league debut.
WHAT'S NEXT Marlins: Injuries have shuffled the Marlins' rotation, and Jose Urena will make his first start of the year, after five relief appearances, in Sunday's series finale with the Mets at 1:10 p.m. ET. Urena is filling the rotation spot vacant with Edinson Volquez on the DL due to a right thumb blister.
Mets:Matt Harvey has struggled to find his command in his return from thoracic surgery, walking eight batters and allowing 12 runs over his last two starts, both losses. He'll look to find the win column in a 1:10 p.m. ET series finale Sunday at Citi Field.