Series: Game 3 of 4

Philadelphia leads 2-1 (as of 10/2)

Game 1: Thursday, September 30
Game 2: Friday, October 1
Game 3: Saturday, October 2
Game 4: Sunday, October 3

Marlins 4

(83-78, 41-40 away)

Phillies 3

(85-76, 41-39 home)

    7:05 PM ET, October 2, 2004

    Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 

    123456789 R H E
    FLA 200002000 4 5 0
    PHI 010001001 3 9 0

    W: J. Beckett (9-9)

    L: E. Milton (14-6)

    S: A. Benitez (47)

    Lowell, Cabrera homer in victory

    PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- This was one loss that wasn't going to be added to Larry Bowa's tally.

    Mike Lowell and Miguel Cabrera each homered to lead the Florida Marlins to a 4-3 victory over Philadelphia on Saturday night, hours after the Phillies fired Bowa after four seasons.

    "I guess it was coming, but there's never a right time," closer Billy Wagner said. "It was just a pleasure to play for Bo and I enjoyed it. I hate to see it come to this."

    Bowa led the Phillies to consecutive winning seasons for the first time in 21 years, but Philadelphia failed to reach the playoffs for the 11th straight season after coming in as favorites to win the NL East.

    "You never want to see this happen. It's a huge disappointment that we didn't make the playoffs because of the kind of team we have," third baseman David Bell said. "I don't think anyone's pointing the finger at anyone. We all feel responsible."

    Bowa did talk before the game -- and got into a shouting match with a beat writer -- but left before general manager Ed Wade announced the move. Bowa did issue a statement thanking the organization and wishing them luck.

    The Phillies had their third winning season in four years under Bowa, but his fiery personality and win-at-all-cost mentality clashed with a few of the laid-back players. Before Bowa took over in 2001, the Phillies had losing records 13 of the previous 14 seasons.

    The Phillies are the losingest franchise in sports. No team in any U.S. pro sport has lost more games than their 8,757.

    Bench coach Gary Varsho managed the team Saturday and will be on the bench for Sunday's finale.

    Josh Beckett (9-9) gave up an RBI triple to Tomas Perez in the second and a solo homer to Jason Michaels in the sixth to finish at .500 on the season and in his career (26-26).

    Beckett, the World Series MVP last season, scattered seven hits and struck out five in eight innings. With a 4-2 lead in the seventh, Beckett put runners on second and third with one out, but retired Chase Utley and Michaels on fly balls.

    "He was tough in the clutch," manager Jack McKeon said. "It's the Beckett we thought we'd see all season long."

    Armando Benitez allowed pinch-hitter Ryan Howard's RBI double in the ninth before picking up his 47th save. Perez was thrown out at the plate with the potential tying run on Howard's double, running through a stop sign from third-base coach John Vukovich. Utley grounded out to second to end the game with the tying run at second.

    "There was a bad exchange," said Varsho, who added he would only take questions about the game.

    McKeon was San Diego's vice president of baseball operations in 1988 when he replaced Bowa 46 games into the season.

    "It's tough for me because I have a personal relationship with him," McKeon said. "I gave him his first job."

    Eric Milton (14-6), one of Philadelphia's big offseason acquisitions, allowed two-run homers to both Lowell and Cabrera, giving the lefty an NL-worst 43 allowed. Milton gave up only one other hit, retired 14 straight in one stretch and struck out five in seven innings.

    Lowell is 6-for-11 in his career against Milton with three homers.

    Milton, a free agent, was 11-2 on June 4, but only 3-4 with 10 no-decisions since. He fell one win shy of matching his career-high victory total set in 2001 with Minnesota.

    Philadelphia's 85 wins -- with the season finale Sunday -- are one shy of last year's total, but it's been considered a huge disappointment after it boosted the payroll to $93 million and traded for Milton Wagner.

    Injuries -- and lack of a deep enough talent pool to replace key starters -- sent the Phillies into a tailspin they could never really recover from. After a 1-9 homestand in late August, Wade failed to give Bowa a vote of confidence.

    Kevin Millwood, Randy Wolf and Vicente Padilla -- three former All-Stars -- missed about 35 starts. Ryan Madson was sidelined more than a month and Wagner was out almost 11 weeks, spanning two stints on the disabled list.

    Bowa did have some players in the locker room voice their support.

    "I would have liked him to get another chance," shortstop Jimmy Rollins said.

    Game notes

    McKeon will return to manage the Marlins in 2005, signing a one-year contract extension. ... Varsho has been the bench coach for the last three seasons. He hit .244 in an eight-year career that included stops with the Cubs, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and the Phillies.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press