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Beckett allows two hits, gets 11 Ks

4/12/2004

MIAMI (AP) -- Just in case there were any doubters, Florida ace
Josh Beckett backed up his stellar postseason performance.

Again.

The World Series MVP allowed two hits and struck out 11 in seven
innings Sunday to help the Marlins beat Philadelphia 3-1, sweep the
three-game series and hand the Phillies their fourth consecutive
loss.

"He had nasty stuff," Philadelphia manager Larry Bowa said.
"Beckett probably would have shut down anybody today, even the '27
Yankees. He's a good pitcher, got good stuff, good command and a
lot of confidence."

The defending champs have won 10 in a row against Philadelphia
in Miami and have beaten the Phillies 15 times in the last 17
games.

Widely picked to win the NL East, the Phillies dropped to 1-5 as
they head home to open their new ballpark Monday against
Cincinnati.

"I think we're ready to go home and sleep in our own beds and
get in our own clubhouse," said Kevin Millwood, winless in two
starts. "It can't hurt. It can't get much worse. ... It'll be nice
to go home and have some fans on our side, hopefully."

It certainly wasn't the start the Phillies expected. The Marlins
(5-1), meanwhile, have continued the success they found late last
season. Beckett has, too.

He gave up four hits and a run in seven innings on opening day.
He was even better Sunday, taking a no-hitter into the sixth
inning.

"We can't just sit on things," said Beckett, who went 2-2 with
a 2.11 ERA in the 2003 postseason. "We're 5-1 and on top of the
world. We're going to go through lulls. We'll see how we bounce
back from there."

Beckett retired the first nine in order before hitting Marlon
Byrd to start the fourth. Byrd was erased with a double play, and
then Beckett (1-0) struck out the side in the fifth.

He ran into some trouble in the sixth, when David Bell hit a
sharp liner to right. Miguel Cabrera got a slow start and then had
to dive at it. It was initially ruled a hit by the official scorer,
then changed to an error after replays showed the ball hit
Cabrera's glove.

Bell criticized the decision after the game.

Fans cheered when the call was changed, keeping the no-hitter
intact. But it was short-lived.

Byrd singled to right on the first pitch two batters later,
scoring Bell from second. Beckett then hit Placido Polanco, but
rebounded to strike out Jim Thome with a knee-bending curveball. It
was Thome's second strikeout looking.

"Josh just has supreme confidence and he's getting better and
better," manager Jack McKeon said. "He still hasn't reached the
top of his game yet. But he's getting there. ... He's a gamer and
he's still learning."

The Phillies got runners on first and second with two outs in
the seventh, but Beckett struck out pinch-hitter Mike Lieberthal to
end the inning.

Beckett walked one and hit two. His lone run was unearned,
dropping his ERA to 0.64.

"I don't think anything has changed from last year," Beckett
said. "I'm just getting ahead in the count."

Armando Benitez allowed one hit and threw 25 pitches in the
ninth for his fifth save and fourth in as many days.

"We're very demanding and we expect to win every night,"
McKeon said.

Cabrera gave the Marlins a 1-0 lead in the first with his second
homer in as many days and his third of the season. Damion Easley,
making his first start with the Marlins, led off the fifth with a
homer.

Millwood (0-2) was sharp aside from the two homers. He allowed
five hits and three runs in six-plus innings. He left after Easley
doubled with Hee Seop Choi aboard in the seventh. Choi later scored
to make it 3-1 on Luis Castillo's sacrifice fly.

"This game is over with," Bowa said. "We got shut down. You
turn the page and hope that playing in a new stadium gets you some
wins."

Game notes
Beckett singled in the fifth, making Florida's starting
pitchers 6-for-12 this season. ... His girlfriend, model and
sportscaster Leeann Tweeden, may have been the most
color-coordinated fan at the game. She wore a black, teal and white
T-shirt with Beckett's name and No. 21 on the back along with
several teal bracelets, white sunglasses and teal flowers in her
hair. She sat with his parents. ... Millwood has one win in his
last 11 starts against the Marlins. He has more career losses
against the Marlins (8) than any other team. ... Phillies Hall of
Famer Mike Schmidt got his first win as a minor league manager when
the Clearwater Threshers beat the Dunedin Blue Jays 9-3 Sunday in
the Florida State League.