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Who's on third? Nomar switches positions in Cubs' loss

CHICAGO (AP) -- The top of the Florida Marlins' order was too
much for the Chicago Cubs.

Leadoff hitter Juan Pierre reached base three times, stole two
bases and scored three runs, and No. 2 hitter Jeff Conine had three
hits, two RBI and scored three runs, helping the Marlins build a
seven-run lead on the way to a 7-5 victory on Friday.

The loss was the Cubs' fifth in six games.

"When you have guys ahead of you who get on base, I don't care
what spot you're hitting in, you want to take advantage of that and
drive them in," Conine said. "Juan Pierre was on base ahead of
me. [Jason] Vargas was on base ahead of me. I had some
opportunities."

Pierre was 1-for 3, and also reached base after being hit by a
pitch and on a throwing error by Chicago shortstop Nomar
Garciaparra, who played third base for the first time since high
school.

Conine was 3-for-4 with a double and a walk.

"They did a good job, both Pierre and Conine, of getting on
base and setting things up for the rest of the guys," Florida
manager Jack McKeon said. "Pierre's a big factor is helping us
score. [Conine] is a good RBI guy, he showed that today."

Vargas (5-1), Florida's rookie left-handed starter, pitched five
scoreless innings before the Cubs rallied with five runs in the
sixth to cut into a 7-0 lead.

Vargas, making his sixth career start and 10th appearance,
allowed nine hits and five runs in 5 2/3 innings. He struck out
three and walked three, and had two singles in three at-bats.

"I wasn't tired, I just wasn't fooling anybody," Vargas said.
"I don't think my pitches we that bad. They were just hitting
pitches that they were missing earlier in the game."

The Marlins got scoreless relief from Randy Messenger and
Antonio Alfonseca, and Todd Jones got the final four outs for his
30th save, including 20 straight successful opportunities.

Florida's Miguel Cabrera added two hits, including a double, a
two RBI.

Garciaparra, out of the lineup since Sunday with a sore back,
filled in at third for Aramis Ramirez, who was placed on the 15-day
disabled list with a strained left quad. He made a throwing error
on his first of two chances, firing wide of first after cleanly
fielding Pierre's bunt in the third.

"That comes with learning the position," Garciaparra said. "
I probably should have just hung onto the ball and gone from there.

"It was definitely a learning experience and we'll see it they
keep me out there."

Jerry's Hairston's double with the bases loaded drove in three
runs and was the key hit in the sixth as the Cubs batted around.
Jeromy Burnitz and Matt Lawton drove in runs with singles in the
inning.

Chicago starter Glendon Rusch (5-7) lost his fifth straight
decision. He lasted 4 2/3 innings, allowing five runs on eight
hits.

Rusch, who has been in and out of the Cubs' rotation, hasn't won
since June 2 at San Diego.

"In all of the three starts since I've come back in the
rotation, I've had trouble in the first," Rusch said. "I have no
explanation. I'm not making good pitches."

Florida took a 2-0 lead in the first on Conine's RBI double and
Carlos Delgado's sacrifice fly.

The Marlins stretched their lead to 4-0 in the third.

After Vargas led off with an infield single, Pierre tested
Garciaparra with a bunt.

Garciaparra fielded the ball cleanly and looked to second to try
to force Vargas, but no one was covering. Garciaparra's throw to
first was wide, allowing Pierre to reach base and Vargas to advance
to third.

"That was a play you never see: a slug bunt," Baker said.
"When Nomar went to second, no one was there. When he went to
first D. [Derrek] Lee was trying to retreat to first and Neifi
[Perez] was trying to get second base and he kind of threw in
between them."

Conine drove in Vargas with a single and Pierre eventually
scored on Cabrera's double-play grounder.

Juan Encarnacion drove in Conine from third with a bloop single
in the fifth to make it 5-0.

Cabrera drove in two runs with a double off Michael Wuertz in
the sixth.

Game notes
The Cubs had three natural shortstops in their lineup on
Wednesday. Garciaparra was at third, Neifi Perez was at second and
Ronny Cedeno, who was recalled from Triple-A Iowa to fill Ramirez's
roster spot, was at shortstop. ... Garciaparra went 0-for-4. ...
Cubs C Michael Barrett hit in the clean up spot, backing-up NL
batting leader Derrek Lee in the third slot. ... Florida INF Luis
Castillo missed his second straight game and eight in his last 10
due to a sore left quad muscle. Damion Easley started in his place
at second. ... Pierre stole a base for the second straight game
after going 10 without a steal. He's second in the NL with 44
steals.