Final in 6

Series: Game 2 of 3

Florida leads 2-0 (as of 6/21)

Game 1: Friday, June 20
Tampa Bay1Final
in 11
Game 2: Saturday, June 21
Tampa Bay0Final
in 6
Game 3: Sunday, June 22
Tampa Bay2Final

Devil Rays 0

(24-48, 11-27 away)

Marlins 2

(37-39, 22-18 home)

    6:05 PM ET, June 21, 2003

    Sun Life Stadium, Miami, Florida 

    123456789 R H E
    TB 000000 - - - 0 2 0
    FLA 00020 - - - - 2 5 0

    W: D. Willis (7-1)

    L: J. Standridge (0-2)

    Willis wins sixth straight in rain-shortened game

    MIAMI (AP) -- Dontrelle Willis freely admitted that Saturday was far from his sharpest outing of the season. It was still good enough.

    Dontrelle Willis

    The rookie left-hander won his sixth straight start, allowing only two hits as the Florida Marlins beat the Tampa Bay Devil Rays 2-0 in a rain-shortened game Saturday night.

    The teams finished only five innings. Tampa Bay sent pinch-hitter Jason Tyner to the plate to open the sixth inning as the rain intensified, but the delay was called after Willis' third pitch of the inning sailed to the backstop screen. The game was called 1 hour, 52 minutes later.

    "One step closer to the playoffs,'' Willis said. "I say it over and over again -- you have to win these ballgames. It was an ugly game, but it's good to be on the winning end of ugly games. Losing one is that much worse.''

    Florida (37-39) climbed within two games of the .500 mark for the first time since May 3. Tampa Bay lost for the 13th time in its last 15 games.

    "We've had bad luck all year long,'' said Tampa Bay right fielder Aubrey Huff, who had one of the Devil Rays' two hits. "We just haven't had the horseshoe on our side here all year.''

    Willis (7-1) struck out four, walked only one and lowered his ERA for the season to 2.38.

    In his last six starts, his ERA is even more impressive -- 0.84. He's allowed four runs in 42 2/3 innings during his winning streak, and three of those four runs came June 11 at Milwaukee.

    "That's the sign of a good pitcher, a guy who can go out there, not have his best stuff and still get the hitters out,'' Marlins manager Jack McKeon said. "It was one of those nights. You know things are going good for him when you can sneak in that one.''

    Jason Standridge (0-2) allowed five hits and two runs in five innings for the Devil Rays. He cruised through the first three innings, but was touched for three hits in the fourth -- including consecutive two-out RBI doubles by Juan Encarnacion and Derrek Lee.

    "He gave us five very respectable innings of baseball,'' Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella said. "He made one bad pitch to Lee, hung that breaking ball. But outside of that, the kid pitched well.''

    Willis retired the last eight batters. He walked Standridge to open the third, but then struck out Julio Lugo on a 3-2 pitch -- and Standridge was thrown out as he ran slowly toward second on the same play. Tampa Bay didn't have another baserunner.

    "I knew that if I kept on going, I was getting thrown out anyway,'' Standridge said. "It'd been so long said I'd been on the ... basepaths, since high school, six or seven years ago. I didn't know what else to do.''

    Standridge could have gotten out of the fourth inning unscathed. Ivan Rodriguez singled with one out in the Florida fourth, then scored all the way from first on Encarnacion's double to the left-center field gap two batters later.

    Tampa Bay shortstop Julio Lugo hesitated before making the relay throw to the plate, which helped Rodriguez beat the play and score the game's first run.

    Lee followed with his double, also to the left-center gap, and Encarnacion scored easily.

    "When you're struggling, things don't go your way,'' Piniella said.

    Game notes

    Marlins CF Juan Pierre, who had been successful on 12 straight stolen-base attempts, was caught stealing twice. One was on a missed hit-and-run, the other came when Pierre tried to steal third, ending the fifth inning. ... Florida is 5-0 in its last five games started by left-handers. ... Lugo has struck out seven times in the last three games. He had struck out seven times in his previous 14. ... Marlins 3B Mike Lowell is 1-for-17 in his last six games, his batting average falling from .305 to .291. ... LF Miguel Cabrera, who gave Florida a 3-1 win Friday with a walkoff two-run homer in his major league debut, went 0-for-2. ... Tampa Bay has held the Marlins to a .200 batting average in the last eight games between the teams, but only managed a 4-4 record in those games. ... Florida RHP Josh Beckett threw three innings, allowing two hits and no runs in a rehab start at Class-A Jupiter. Beckett, out since May 9 with an elbow strain, struck out five and threw 42 pitches in his rehab debut.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press