MIAMI — Standing in foul territory, Steven Matz stared at the ball he had just mishandled and started to give it an angry kick, then changed his mind and instead just picked it up.
Matz and the New York Mets keep their cool Sunday, barely, overcoming three errors and escaping the NL East cellar after a one-day stay by beating the Miami Marlins 5-2.
The Mets, who endured their worst June ever, won for only the second time in the past 12 games to reach the season’s halfway point at 33-48.
“We’re all disappointed with where we’re at,” Matz said. “We had higher expectations. We’re just going to keep pushing.”
Matz (4-5) did that in the series finale, when he pitched 5 1/3 innings and allowed only an unearned run. It scored on his error, and he worked around misplays by two teammates — an encouraging sign from a pitcher still learning not to let setbacks snowball.
“You still see him get a little flustered out there,” manager Mickey Callaway said. “But he regroups and makes the next pitch. Today he won the game for us because he did that, because they easily could have tacked on some runs there early. He held them right where he needed to hold them.”
New York’s bullpen leads the majors in losses but limited Miami to one hit in the final 3 2/3 innings. Jeurys Familia completed the four-hitter with a perfect ninth for his 15th save.
Asdrubal Cabrera hit his 14th homer off Dan Straily (3-4). Todd Frazier had two hits and scored three times, and Kevin Plawecki doubled home New York’s first run.
Straily allowed three runs in seven innings, matching his longest outing of the year. Cameron Maybin hit his first homer for the Marlins, but they slipped back into last place in the division.
“We just didn’t do a whole lot with Matz,” manager Don Mattingly said. “That’s probably the best I’ve seen him.”
Matz loaded the bases with two out in the second by walking Straily, an .056 career hitter, but then struck out Starlin Castro to escape.
Matz also reached behind his legs to snare Lewis Brinson’s grounder and retire him in the fourth. But the left-hander failed to come up with Straily’s safety squeeze bunt with two out in the inning, allowing Miguel Rojas to score from third.
“If I had taken my time I would have had him, but I rushed it,” Matz said.
Callaway talked before the game about how the Mets needed to play better defence, but they didn’t. Second baseman Cabrera and third baseman Frazier misplayed grounders for errors.
Miami misplays in the eighth led to the Mets’ final two runs. Center fielder Brinson failed to catch Frazier’s drive after a long sprint, and the play was ruled an RBI double.
“He probably should have caught that,” Mattingly said. “I know they gave him a hit there, but if you ask him he gets to that ball and catches that pretty much all the time.”
Frazier then came home on a wild pickoff throw by catcher J.T. Realmuto.
Matz was 2 for 26 this year before he hit a two-out single in the fourth for his first RBI of the season.
“I was in a slump,” he said, “but I’m out of it now.”
The Mets’ Brandon Nimmo, hit by a pitch on his right hand a week ago, went 0 for 5 and is in a 1-for-19 slump.
“I’m super late. My bat speed is not there,” he said. “But my hand feels fine.”
Mets: INF Dominic Smith, who had a cortisone shot for his sore right wrist, pinch-hit in the eighth and flied out. … OF Jay Bruce (hip) is expected to begin taking batting practice in the next few days.
Mets: After an off day, RHP Zack Wheeler (2-6, 4.47) is scheduled to start Tuesday at Toronto.
Marlins: LHP Wei-Yin Chen (2-5, 6.14) is scheduled to start Monday against Tampa Bay to begin a three-game series.