MARLINS 1, Mets 0

Monday, June 4th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

MIAMI (AP) _ Florida manager Tony Perez thinks A.J. Burnett will get better.

As comforting as that might be for the Marlins, it's got to be a troublesome thought for the rest of the National League.

Burnett allowed four hits in 8 2-3 shutout innings Sunday, and Preston Wilson had an RBI single in the bottom of the ninth as Florida beat the New York Mets 1-0 to split the four-game series.

The 24-year-old right-hander also extended his scoreless streak to 16 2-3 innings and lowered his team-best ERA from 2.16 to 1.71.

``He looks like he's 30 years old out there,'' Perez said. ``He looks like he's been around. ... It's amazing. He's still a kid. He's not even on the big level yet; he's still going up.''

Throwing in the mid-90s, Burnett kept the Mets off balance. He struck out five and walked one in his sixth start of the season. In five of the six outings, he has given up one or fewer runs, including a no-hitter May 12 at San Diego.

``I feel like I know more now,'' said Burnett, who began the season on the disabled list with a broken right foot. ``I can feel my way through outings. I'm making good pitches and I'm getting outs.

``I was in a zone today. I was locked in all game. It was just me and (catcher) Mike (Redmond) and that's all I saw.''

His only rough start came May 24 against the Mets. He allowed seven hits and seven runs in four innings.

He bounced back against Pittsburgh last week, throwing eight scoreless innings before shutting down New York on Sunday.

``The kid had good stuff against us today,'' Mets manager Bobby Valentine said. ``He got the outs when he needed them.''

Burnett retired 15 of the first 16 batters he faced, then worked out of a sixth-inning jam. He had one out in the ninth before Desi Relaford singled and stole second base.

With two outs, Burnett intentionally walked Robin Ventura before giving way to Antonio Alfonseca (3-2), who got Todd Zeile to ground out to end the threat.

The Marlins scored in the bottom half off Turk Wendell (1-2), giving Alfonseca the victory.

With one out, Luis Castillo's grounder tipped off Zeile's glove, skipped past Relaford and into right field for a double. Wendell walked Eric Owens, then gave way to John Franco.

Franco got the second out. But Wilson followed with a groundball up the middle that tipped off Franco's glove, and shortstop Joe McEwing had no play on the redirected hit.

``It's better to be lucky sometimes,'' Wilson said.

Kevin Appier allowed two hits in seven shutout innings for New York. He struck out eight and walked one.

``Appier was nasty, but A.J. was even nastier,'' Redmond said.

Notes: In his last three starts, Appier has 25 strikeouts and just three walks but has one win and two no-decisions. ... Florida's Cliff Floyd went 0-for-4, snapping his career-best hitting streak at 10 games. ... Mets SS Rey Ordonez was scratched from the starting lineup with a sore right shoulder.