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NATIONAL LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES / Chicago vs. Florida
| REPORT

Pavano, Not Penny, Will Attempt to Save the Marlins' Season

October 13, 2003|Ben Bolch | Times Staff Writer

MIAMI — Florida Marlin Manager Jack McKeon has elected to start Carl Pavano instead of Brad Penny in Game 6 of the National League championship series Tuesday at Wrigley Field, saying he likes the way Pavano matches up against the Chicago Cubs.

McKeon would not elaborate, but Pavano has given up three runs in nine innings against the Cubs during the regular season and playoffs.

Pavano took the loss in a 5-1 Chicago win in July after giving up three runs in seven innings. He has pitched two scoreless innings against the Cubs in the postseason, working out of the bullpen.

By comparison, Penny was roughed up for seven hits and seven runs in two innings in Game 2. But he had limited the Cubs to four hits and an unearned run in a 1-0 loss in July.

McKeon said there was nothing physically wrong with Penny.

Florida third baseman Mike Lowell said he liked what he has recently seen from Pavano, who started 32 of the 33 games he appeared in during the regular season.

"He's a guy who is surprisingly throwing harder in the second half of the season than he did when he started," Lowell said. "He's going to have some zip on his fastball.... I feel confident. I think he's got what it takes."

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The Cubs remained optimistic about their chances as the series shifts back to Wrigley Field for Game 6. After all, they have ace Mark Prior scheduled to start Game 6 and Kerry Wood available to start Game 7 if necessary.

And then there's this: Prior is 11-2 this season, including the playoffs, when pitching after a Cub loss.

"I know Prior's going to come through for us again, and that's everything we're going to need," right fielder Sammy Sosa said.

Said shortstop Alex Gonzalez: "We get to go back to our place up three to two. I don't think that's so bad of a situation. It's in our hands and it's up to us to make it happen."

If there's any consolation for Florida, it's that the Marlins are 2-0 in their history when facing postseason elimination, having won, 4-0, Sunday, and having defeated Cleveland in Game 7 of the 1997 World Series.

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Florida center fielder Juan Pierre suggested that Cub pitcher Carlos Zambrano's excitable nature might be OK if he were a closer, "only he has to come back to the mound after expending all that emotion and it's a little tougher."

Zambrano said that's just the way he is, and Cub Manager Dusty Baker said the issue was only being raised because Chicago lost Sunday's game.

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Josh Beckett's two-hitter tied an NL championship series record for fewest hits allowed in a game by a pitcher. Beckett shares the record with Cincinnati's Ross Grimsley and San Francisco's Dave Dravecky. Beckett's shutout was the first in an NL championship series since Arizona's Randy Johnson shut out Atlanta, 2-0, in 2001. It was also the first shutout thrown against the Cubs in the postseason since Babe Ruth of the Boston Red Sox blanked them, 1-0, in the first game of the 1918 World Series.... Ivan Rodriguez, whose seventh-inning homer gave the Marlins a 3-0 lead, has hit safely in all nine playoff games.

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