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Florida loses last three of four spring games

4/5/2004 - Florida Marlins

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.