Floyd had three hits, including a go-ahead home run in the fifth
inning, and the Florida Marlins beat the slumping Chicago Cubs 9-7
Tuesday night. Sammy Sosa hit his 28th homer of the season for the Cubs, who
have lost seven of eight. Floyd had a pair of singles to go along with his solo shot off
Jon Lieber that broke a tie. He finished 3-for-3 with three RBI. ''I was just trying to do something to get the team back in the
lead,'' Floyd said. ''It was a 1-0 pitch that he left inside. I hit
that pitch good. ''Everybody is jelling together. We need to be patient and play
our game. We can put five or six runs on the board any time.'' Floyd, who is making $6.5 million in the last year of his
contract, has been the subject of trade rumors most of the season.
He will likely demand too high a salary for the Marlins. But his numbers have been impressive lately, a fact not lost on
Floyd's teammates. He has hit in seven of his last eight games,
batting .343 with four home runs and 10 RBI during that span. ''There's been a lot of trade talk with him, and I hope we don't
lose him,'' Marlins pitcher Brad Penny said. ''He's a big part of
this team.'' Penny, making his first start since May 18, was shaky after
being activated off the disabled list earlier in the day. Staked to
leads of 4-0 and 5-2, Penny gave up a pair of runs in the fourth
and three more in the fifth. Penny, who missed the last seven weeks with inflammation to his
right biceps muscle, lasted 4 1-3 innings, allowing five runs on
eight hits, including home runs to Fred McGriff and Sosa. ''Our team played great, and I struggled late,'' Penny said. ''I
left some pitches up, but they have a great lineup. I feel
relieved. It's a thousand pounds off my shoulders. I've been trying
to get my arm healthy all year.'' Tom Gordon made his first appearance for the Cubs since Sept.
5., striking out two in a scoreless eighth. His second strikeout --
against Luis Castillo -- was the 1,500th of his career. Gordon missed most of the first half of the season with a torn a
muscle in his right shoulder. His 2001 season was cut short by
tendinitis in his elbow. The Marlins added three runs in the seventh off reliever Juan
Cruz to open a 9-5 lead. Blaine Neal (2-0) pitched 1 2-3 innings in relief for the win. Lieber (6-5) pitched five innings, giving up six runs and 10
hits. It was Lieber's first loss since May 29. ''I didn't do the job tonight,'' Lieber said. ''I wasn't making
the right pitches, and I didn't have the right location. We battled
back, but I didn't come through.'' The Marlins scored a pair of runs in the first inning. Castillo
extended his hitting streak to eight games by leading off with a
single and went to third on Andy Fox's single. Mike Lowell hit a grounder to short, but Alex Gonzalez, whose
error on Monday led to seven runs in the fifth inning, bobbled it
and was late with his throw to second, giving him two errors in as
many games. Castillo scored on Lowell's fielder's choice, and Fox
scored from second on Cliff Floyd's single to center. Eric Owens led off the second with a single and scored two outs
later on Penny's double to left-center for a 3-0 lead. Lowell's 14th homer of the season gave Florida a 4-0 lead in the
third. The Cubs scored twice in the fourth. Fred McGriff led off with a
solo homer, his 15th, and Bill Mueller drove in Todd Hundley with a
single to make it 4-2. Castillo's sacrifice fly scored Kevin Millar to put the Marlins
up 5-2 inthe fourth. Sosa's two-run homer in the fifth chopped Florida's lead to 5-4.
The Cubs tied the game in the same inning on Gonzalez's two-out
double, scoring McGriff. Floyd's solo shot in the fifth put the Marlins ahead 6-5. The
Marlins scored three more runs in the seventh. The Cubs scored two runs off Vladimir Nunez in the ninth but
Mueller grounded out with runners on first and second to end it.
Nunez, who has struggled lately as the closer, made things
interesting, giving up three walks and a single. ''Walks. I hate walks,'' Florida manager Jeff Torborg said.
''That's what they put on the manager's tombstone.''
Chicago's Moises Alou left the game in the sixth with a
cramp in his right calf and is listed day-to-day. ... McGriff's
homer ended a 2-for-19 slide. ... Castillo, who had a 35-game
hitting streak earlier this year, has hit safely in 52 of his last
56 games and in 64 of 77 overall. ... Sosa's homer was the 478th of
his career. ... Floyd has four home runs in his last eight games
and 11 RBI during that span.