Bullpen lets Marlins down in Game 3

The Florida Marlins had a chance to beat Kerry Wood, and their bullpen let it get away.

Updated: October 11, 2003, 4:07 AM ET
Associated Press

MIAMI -- The Florida Marlins had a chance to beat Kerry Wood, and their bullpen let it get away.

Chad Fox failed to protect an eighth-inning lead, Braden Looper gave up a run-scoring triple in the 11th and the Marlins lost to the Chicago Cubs 5-4 in Game 3 of the NL championship series Friday night.

The bullpen failure came after crafty left-hander Mark Redman gave the Marlins their best performance by a starting pitcher in the series. Despite being bumped at first base in a play that briefly left him dizzy two pitches into the game, Redman lasted 6 2-3 innings and departed trailing the Cubs and Wood only 3-2.

"It's frustrating," Looper said. "Anytime you have the lead, no matter who it's against, you want to get the game home."

The Marlins, who have been behind in all seven of their postseason games, this time came back twice. But now they trail the best-of-seven series 2-1 and need a strong showing by rookie Dontrelle Willis in Game 4 on Saturday against Matt Clement.

"It's unfortunate we lost, but we're not going to dwell on it," Fox said. "We're going to play four more of these games."

Missed opportunities played a part in the Marlins' defeat. Ivan Rodriguez struck out with the bases loaded to end the fifth, and Mike Mordecai flied out with the bases loaded to end the ninth.

But the bullpen shared in the blame.

Fox, a key contributor during the Marlins' late-season surge, pitched out of a jam in the seventh and began the eighth with a 3-2 lead.

He gave up a 390-foot triple to pinch-hitter Tom Goodwin with one out. The next pitch was a hanging slider, and Randall Simon pulled it over the right-field wall -- only the second homer allowed by Fox in 26 appearances for Florida this season.

"There are going to be bumps in the road," Fox said. "You're going to take your lumps. Tonight I took mine."

The Marlins made it 4-all on pinch-hitter Todd Hollandsworth's two-out RBI single in the eighth. Ugueth Urbina then retired six straight Cubs, four on strikeouts, and punctuated the end of the ninth and 10th with pumps of his fist.

To start the 11th, Marlins manager Jack McKeon called on Michael Tejera, who earned notoriety in Game 2 by throwing the first postseason pitch of his career into the dugout. He retired the first batter, but Kenny Lofton singled, and Looper came on.

The right-hander's late-season struggles cost him the closer's job in September, and he again had a rough time. On a hit-and-run, pinch-hitter Doug Glanville pulled a liner through the area vacated by shortstop Alex Gonzalez. The ball was hit so hard that a diving Jeff Conine was unable to cut it off in left field, and Glanville kept running for a triple as Lofton scored the run that gave the Cubs the victory.

"It was a perfect hit-and-run," Looper said. "You've got to tip your hat to them."

The defeat stung in part because of the way Florida hung tough against Wood. Miguel Cabrera spun several steps toward third base to avoid a head-high inside fastball. Conine's knees buckled on a changeup. But the Marlins also reached the right-hander for seven hits and three runs, including two in the seventh to take the lead.

"From what I read, it looked like we didn't have a chance," McKeon said. "But this is the major leagues, and some nights anybody can hit anybody."

McKeon tried Cabrera at a new position for the second consecutive game. This time it was right field, where the rookie moved in a seventh-inning double switch that allowed third baseman Mike Lowell to enter the game.

Lowell walked in the seventh and later scored. But he flied out in his final two at-bats.

The game ended on a strange play. Luis Castillo reached second with two outs in the 11th, but when Derrek Lee hit a grounder to third, Castillo unwisely tried to advance. Aramis Ramirez bobbled the ball, then grabbed it and got Castillo in a rundown. Castillo was called for running out of the bases.

"We couldn't get that last big hit," Florida's Juan Pierre said.

Redman gave up a run in each of the first two innings, then settled down and kept the Marlins close against Wood.

The left-hander was shaken up covering first base in the first inning. Leadoff batter Lofton pulled a two-hopper toward first, and as he crossed the base, his left shoulder hit Redman's jaw.

Redman spun to the ground and was slow to rise.

"I was dizzy," he said. "I didn't know what happened or how I got hit. I just had to get my bearings back."

Two batters later he gave up an RBI single to Sammy Sosa. The liner off the scoreboard probably would have been a home run at Wrigley Field.

Two walks got Redman in trouble in the second, and Wood hit a sacrifice fly to make it 2-0. Redman retired Mark Grudzielanek on a flyout with the bases loaded to end the inning, then shut out the Cubs over the next 4 2/3 innings.

Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press