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Marlins Let a Big One Get Away

A blown chance in the sixth inning with runners at the corners and one out leaves them frustrated but not in a second-guessing mood.

October 22, 2003|Jason Reid | Times Staff Writer

MIAMI — Squandering an opportunity is never a good thing, and being wasteful is especially dangerous when facing the New York Yankees with October's biggest prize at stake.

The Florida Marlins lamented what could have been Tuesday night after a 6-1 loss to the Yankees in Game 3 of the World Series at Pro Player Stadium.

With the score tied, 1-1, in the sixth inning, the Marlins failed to push across the go-ahead run despite having runners on the corners with one out.

"That ... that's unfortunate," said Dontrelle Willis, who struggled in relief of starter Josh Beckett as the Yankees went ahead in the eighth.

"You have the chance to take the lead and it didn't happen. ... Those are the little things that decide ballgames."

The Marlins didn't capitalize on a fielding miscue by Yankee right fielder Karim Garcia in the sixth, and then starter Mike Mussina took control of the situation.

Ivan Rodriguez, running on contact from third, was thrown out in a rundown as Derek Lee hit a sinking liner to the mound, and Mike Lowell struck out swinging to end the inning.

The Marlins also failed to score in the seventh after getting a leadoff single from Jeff Conine, but the previous inning was the biggest disappointment for the Marlins and a rain-soaked crowd of 65,731.

The opportunistic Yankees took a 2-1 lead in the eighth and broke the game open with a four-run ninth. After winning the opener at Yankee Stadium, Florida trails, 2-1, in the best-of-seven series.

The Marlins are two losses from elimination, and they acknowledge things turned worse for them in the sixth.

"It was a good situation, especially because the guy on the mound [Mussina] was pretty tough," Marlin leadoff batter Juan Pierre said. "But it was one of those plays where we just couldn't get the big hit."

The situation was unfolding well for the Marlins, as Rodriguez doubled off the wall in left-center after Luis Castillo led off with a grounder to second.

Rookie sensation Miguel Cabrera, batting cleanup, singled sharply to right, and Garcia, charging in for a potential play at the plate, misplayed the ball as it bounced off his glove.

But Marlin third-base coach Ozzie Guillen, after initially waving in Rodriguez, held him at third because he thought Garcia would field the ball cleanly.

"I never thought the guy was going to drop the ball, and I got the best hitter [Lee] behind him," Guillen said. "I saw he dropped the ball and it was [too] late."

Mussina stopped Lee's soft liner and threw to catcher Jorge Posada as Rodriguez was racing down the line, running on contact in an attempt to avoid a double play with one gone and Cabrera on first. Posada chased Rodriguez back toward third base and applied the tag as Rodriguez slipped about halfway up the line.

"You've got to run on contact; it's a double-play situation," Guillen said. "When you're on third base there, you have to run on contact."

Guillen said he made the right move in holding Rodriguez.

"I never second-guess myself when I'm coaching," the former smooth-fielding shortstop said. "I've got my plan and I stick with it."

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