Series: Game 1 of 3

Florida leads 1-0 (as of 6/24)

Game 1: Friday, June 24
Tampa Bay4
Game 2: Saturday, June 25
Tampa Bay2
Game 3: Sunday, June 26
Tampa Bay0

Marlins 7

(36-34, 15-19 away)

Devil Rays 4

(26-48, 18-19 home)

    7:15 PM ET, June 24, 2005

    Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Florida 

    123456789 R H E
    FLA 003000040 7 11 0
    TB 000300100 4 4 0

    W: G. Mota (1-1)

    L: D. Waechter (3-5)

    S: T. Jones (13)

    Tampa Bay's Jones earns 199th save

    ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- Juan Pierre provided a perfect ending to a long day for the Florida Marlins.

    Pierre tripled with the bases loaded in a four-run eighth inning, helping his team -- which spent much of the previous night sitting around in the Atlanta airport -- come from behind to beat the Tampa Bay Devil Rays 7-4 on Friday night.

    The Marlins loaded the bases in the eighth on Paul Lo Duca's one-out double off Doug Waechter (3-5) and two walks.

    Pierre greeted Lance Carter, the third pitcher of the inning, with a triple over the head of center fielder Damon Hollins, who earlier made a sensational catch to rob Lo Duca of an extra-base hit.

    "When I hit it I was like: `Please don't go back and catch this one," Pierre said. "He had just made a spectacular catch against (Lo Duca), and just the way my luck has been going, he would have run that one down. ... It's good to be part of a big inning for us. And to be on the RBI end of it was even bigger."

    If Pierre had been more familiar with Tampa Bay's eighth-inning woes, he wouldn't have worried at all.

    Monday night was the sixth time in the past 24 games that the Devil Rays have taken a lead into the eighth and lost. The Yankees scored 13 runs in the eighth to finish a 20-11 win Tuesday night, and Tampa Bay has been outscored 76-24 in the inning overall.

    Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella didn't meet with reporters after the game. His players didn't have any real answers, either.

    "I don't know what to tell you about it," Carter said. "We're giving it everything we've got. Regardless of whether it's gone good or bad, we're out there battling."

    Al Leiter took a three-hitter into the seventh inning for the Marlins, who didn't arrive in Florida from Atlanta until about 7:30 a.m. because of mechanical problems with their plane.

    Reliever Guillermo Mota (1-1) worked two-thirds of an inning and got the win, despite allowing a run-scoring single that gave Tampa Bay a 4-3 lead.

    Jim Mecir pitched the eighth for Florida, which has beaten Tampa Bay five straight dating to last season. Todd Jones worked the ninth for his 13th save in 15 chances this season, and the 199th of his career.

    Jorge Cantu homered for the third time in two games and Alex S. Gonzalez had three hits and drove in one run with a seventh-inning single off Mota for Tampa Bay, which is 0-4 against Florida this season.

    Cantu, who homered twice in a 9-4 victory over the Yankees on Thursday night, erased a 3-0 deficit with a three-run homer off Leiter, who allowed four runs and three hits in 6 1/3 innings.

    Gonzalez had two of the Devil Rays' three hits off Leiter, including a pop fly that initially was scored an error when it fell between Marlins second baseman Luis Castillo and right fielder Juan Encarnacion. His third hit -- off Mota -- drove in Eduardo Perez from second base for the 4-3 lead.

    "I thought we had that game," Cantu said. "And in a blink of an eye, it was gone."

    Carlos Delgado had a two-run double off Waechter in the third and the next batter, Mike Lowell, also doubled to give the Marlins a 3-0 lead. Cantu's homer tied it 3-3 in the fourth.

    Leiter got himself into trouble in the fourth by walking Carl Crawford and Julio Lugo. Cantu's homer to left-center was his fifth in eight games and hiked his team-leading season total to 12.

    Waechter allowed five runs and nine hits in 7 2/3 innings.

    Game notes

    Florida's Alex Gonzalez singled in the fourth to extend his hitting streak to a career-best 14 games. ... The Devil Rays are 3-13 in interleague play after going 15-3 last season. ... Castillo snapped an 0-for-11 skid with a first-inning double. He drove in the Marlins' final run with an infield hit. ... The Devil Rays recalled demoted opening day starter Dewon Brazelton from Double-A Montgomery and plan to use him in the bullpen. Reliever Lee Gardner was sent to Triple-A Durham. ... Cantu's homer was the first allowed by Leiter on the road this season.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press