Florida loses last three of four spring games

Updated: April 5, 2004, 2:32 AM ET
Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- The Florida Marlins again played like a team tired of spring training.

The World Series champions battled bad weather, poor fielding and a shaky outing by Darren Oliver in a seven-inning, 9-1 loss Sunday to Albuquerque, their Triple-A farm team.

The Marlins, who open the season Tuesday at home against Montreal, lost for the third time in four games but still finished the exhibition season with a winning record (16-14) for only the third time.

After giving up 21 runs and 23 hits Saturday in a 21-13 loss to the New York Mets in Jupiter, Fla., the Marlins made a four-hour flight late Saturday.

They were greeted by temperatures in the mid 40s, with a wind chill of 34 and wind gusts up to 30 mph. When rain started falling, the game was called.

More than two inches of rain fell in Albuquerque during a 24-hour period Friday and Saturday, and the Marlins had trouble handling the conditions.

Errors by third baseman Mike Mordecai on a hard-hit grounder and left fielder Wil Cordero, who dropped a line drive that hit his glove, led to three unearned runs. The Isotopes added two runs in the second on four singles and four in the seventh on four hits.

Albuquerque shortstop Wilson Valdez stole four bases in the first two innings. He had two singles and a double and scored twice, all off Oliver.

During Valdez's third at-bat, Oliver threw inside and was warned by plate umpire Kevin Sweeney. Valdez then looped a fly over first base that dropped in for a double.

Oliver said he wasn't trying to throw at Valdez.

"I got off balance and I kind of yanked it," he said. "It was so windy, it was tough to get a grip on the ball."

Florida manager Jack McKeon took most of his starters out after four innings. Oliver gave up five runs -- two earned -- and seven hits in four innings with five strikeouts.

"We're just real tired, the travel and everything," Oliver said. "It's not that we didn't want to come out and play, but the timing was bad."

Carl Pavano, the No. 4 starter in the Marlins' rotation, was scheduled to pitch but didn't. McKeon said Pavano felt some tightness in his back.

"There was no need to put him out there in a cold wind like that," McKeon said.

The Marlins got their only run in the second on singles by Cordero and Mordecai and a double by catcher Mike Redmond. Miguel Cabrera, with a pair of singles, was the only Marlin starter with more than one hit.

Albuquerque starter Kevin Olsen, who wasn't invited to the Marlins' major league camp, held the Marlins to a run on six hits over 3 1-3 innings.

Olsen was with the Marlins early last year but missed most of the season after being hit in the head by a batted ball on June 27 at Fenway Park in a 25-8 loss to the Red Sox.

Notes: The game was the first by a major league team in Albuquerque since the Milwaukee Brewers and Los Angeles Dodgers played in April 1978 ... A crowd of 14,177 fans turned out, but most were gone by the sixth inning.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press