THE New York Mets were left to rue stranding 14 men on base as they fell to a 5-4 defeat against Hanley Ramirez and the Florida Marlins.
The Mets had runners on base every inning, but they could only push four across the plate as Ramirez hit a solo home run and Jorge Cantu hit a walk-off RBI single to keep the Marlins as the only undefeated team in the majors.
The Mets rallied back from an early 3-0 deficit, but a lack of timely hitting meant they never had the lead in the game as the Marlins moved to 4-0 for the first ever time in their short franchise's history.
Hanley Ramirez hit a solo shot to straight away centre field in the home half of the 1st inning to make it 1-0 Marlins and Dan Uggla absolutely tattooed one to the upper deck down the line in left to lead off the 2nd inning and make it 2-0.
John Maine had previously pitched well against All Star Hanley Ramirez, who came into the contest hitting just .188 (3/16) against him and Dan Uggla who was 3/15 with seven strikeouts, and while Maine didn't pitch poorly, he got burned on the pitches he failed to locate.
Maine, who was 2-0 with a 3.22 ERA in four career starts in Florida, went five innings and gave up a pair of runs runs on two hits hits - both solo shots - walking one and fanning five on 83 pitches.
Unfortunately for Maine, the Mets didn't put any runs on the board until after he had departed.
In the first three innings the Mets had a runner on first base with one out; in the 4th and 5th inning they had men on first and second with no outs and in the 6th inning the first two men hit safely.
The Mets rallied in the 7th and had their chances in both the 8th and 9th but it was the problems early on with runners in scoring position that really cost them.
In the 4th inning, the Mets had Carlos Delgado lead off the inning with a walk before Carlos Beltran followed it with a single.
But Ryan Church flied out to centre, Brian Schneider popped out to third and Luis Castillo, batting eighth in the lineup once again, grounded out to Hanley Ramirez at short.
The Mets had something similar going in the 5th inning. Jose Reyes worked a walk after Maine had led off the inning with a strikeout. Daniel Murphy popped out in foul territory to Bonifacio, but David Wright single to left field to put two men on for the second time tonight.
Carlos Delgado worked the count to 2-0 and 3-1 but struck out on a changeup to set the side down.
But it seemed that all the Mets needed was for Anibal Sanchez to leave.
Left-handed Dan Myer came in to pitch the 6th inning in place of Sanchez, but he gave up a long home run to Carlos Beltran who was switch-hitting from the right and a single to Ryan Church.
He walked pinch-hitter Gary Sheffield on four pitches, but Jose Reyes hit a shallow fly ball to right to strand the Mets' ninth baserunner.
The Marlins regained their advantage in the bottom of the 6th against Mets reliever Shaun Green, who gave up one run on three singles, a walk and a balk.
Emilio Bonafacio singled and moved to second on a balk to second base and he advanced to third on Ramirez's infield hit. Jorge Cantu then drove him home with his fifth RBI of the year to make in 3-1 Marlins.
But it was in the 7th inning where the Mets made their most serious charge.
Dan Meyer led off the 7th inning with a single to Daniel Murphy and Kiko Calero walked David Wright and hit Carlos Delgado on the knee by a pitch to load the bases.
Beltran scored Murphy on a ground ball to second base and hustled down to line to avoid the double play and Russ Pinto walked Ryan Church to fill them up again.
Leo Nunez - the fourth Marlin relief pitcher of the inning - was the next man to try his luck with the Mets lineup.
Fernando Tatis just missed crushing a hanging, flat slider, instead having to settle for a deep sac fly to left field, but Luis Castillo struck out looking to end the inning.
Mets reliever Bobby Parnell could not hold on to the lead though. He gave up three hits - all with two outs - to hand the lead right back to the fish.
Bonifacio started it off with a bunt down the third base line, Jeff Baker blooped a flair to shallow left and Ramirez drove Bonifacio home with his third hit and second RBI of the evening.
Beltran and Church hit one-out singles in the top of the 9th inning against closer Matt Lindstrom, and Jeremy Reed lined a single to right field to tie the game at 4-4.
But Darren O'Day gave the Marlins a walk-off win as Cantu scored Bonifacio from second, beating Murphy's throw home from left field for a 5-4 win.