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Pavano Is Ready for His Big Test

October 14, 2003|From Associated Press

The Florida Marlins' season hinges on Carl Pavano, and that's fine with him.

The Marlins say it's fine with them too.

"I feel confident," third baseman Mike Lowell said. "I think he's got what it takes."

Pavano will make his first start in 2 1/2 weeks, and the first postseason start of his career, when the Marlins play the Chicago Cubs in Game 6 of the National League championship series tonight.

The right-hander has a career record of 39-50, and he'll be pitching at Wrigley Field, where he has never won, against Cub ace Mark Prior.

"I'm so excited," Pavano said. "This is great. We've come a long way this year to get to the point where we're at. I feel proud to be given the ball to keep us going."

The Cubs scored 33 runs in the first four games of the series, putting them on the verge of their first World Series berth since 1945. But Josh Beckett limited Chicago to two hits in the first complete game of his career in Game 5 on Sunday, a 4-0 Florida win.

Pavano moved to the bullpen when the Marlins went to a four-man rotation for the playoffs. But with the team facing elimination, Manager Jack McKeon decided to start Pavano in Game 6 instead of Brad Penny.

Pavano pitched one scoreless inning in Game 2 and another in Game 4 on Saturday. In 4 2/3 innings and five postseason appearances, he has yet to allow a run.

"He looked great Saturday," Lowell said. "He's a guy who is surprisingly throwing harder in the second half of the season. He's going to have some zip on his fastball."


Cub General Manager Jim Hendry made a series of solid moves to transform the Cubs from perennial losers to a team on the cusp of reaching the World Series.

Hendry got his early education in professional ball from the Marlins.

After a successful stint as a college baseball coach at Creighton, Hendry joined the fledgling Marlins before they'd played their first game.

In three years with Florida, he served as a special assistant to then-general manager Dave Dombrowski as a scout and minor league manager. He joined the Cubs in 1994, initially as director of player development.

He'll never forget his early days in Florida.

"The Marlins' situation when I left Creighton was unique. I don't know if I could have been on the same path if I had gone with another club," Hendry said.

"I got a tremendous foundation in my entrance into professional baseball.... I learned so much in those first couple of years that they gave me the feeling I could possibly be successful at the professional level in what I wanted to do."


Cub radio broadcaster Ron Santo is sure his team will be in the World Series. And he plans to call the games from his Arizona home.

The former All-Star third baseman is in Arizona undergoing medical tests. He said doctors have postponed surgery to remove tumors from his bladder while they check out his heart.

The 63-year-old Santo played for the Cubs from 1960 to '73 and is in his 14th season as an analyst for WGN-AM. He said the station plans to arrange it so he can broadcast from his house.

"They're going to hook up a couple of lines here," he said. "There might be a second-and-a-half delay. My partner [Pat Hughes] and I have such great chemistry it won't be a problem."


Fox's coverage of Game 3 between the Cubs and Marlins was rated higher than any league championship series game a year ago.

The Friday night broadcast recorded a 9.3/18 national rating/share, with an average audience of 14.3 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research.

That's a 45% improvement over last year's comparable Friday night telecast between Minnesota and the Angels.




Chicago and Florida need three more home runs to tie Seattle and New York for most home runs for both teams in a major league playoff series. A look at the teams, home runs, number of games in the series and year (x-active):

*--* HRs Teams Games Year NATIONAL LEAGUE 19 CHICAGO 10, FLORIDA 9 FIVE 2003-x 14 San Francisco 7, St. Louis 7 five 2002 13 Atlanta 7, Colorado 6 four 1995 13 Dodgers 8, Philadelphia 5 four 1978 13 Pittsburgh 8, San Francisco 5 four 1971 12 Atlanta 8, St. Louis 4 seven 1996 12 Philadelphia 7, Atlanta 5 six 1993 AMERICAN LEAGUE 22 Seattle 11, New York 11 five 1995 19 New York 10, Baltimore 9 five 1996 16 Angels 9, New York 7 four 2002 15 Minnesota 8, Detroit 7 five 1987 14 Toronto 10, Oakland 4 six 1992 13 Oakland 8, Minnesota 5 five 2002 13 Angels 7, Boston 6 seven 1986


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