<
>

Beckett in complete command of Pirates

MIAMI (AP) -- Desperate to beat Pittsburgh, the Florida Marlins
handed the ball to Josh Beckett. And the right-hander did the rest.

Beckett pitched shutout ball into the eighth inning and drove in
a run as the Marlins remained tied for the NL wild-card lead after
a 3-0 victory over the Pirates on Wednesday night.

Beckett (7-7) won for just the second time in seven starts,
allowing just three hits over 7 2/3 innings. He retired 13 of his
first 14 batters before giving up a one-out double to Carlos Rivera
in the fifth.

Jason Kendall singled in the sixth, and Tike Redman singled in
the eighth.

Beckett came within one out of equaling the longest outing of
his career. Still, it goes down as an impressive performance,
keeping the Marlins tied with the Phillies for the top spot in the
wild-card race.

"We won, and that's what matters right now," Beckett said.
"We have to keep pace or pass the pace. I'm happy. We just want to
keep rolling."

The Pirates, who had their way with the Marlins in the four
previous games, could only give credit to Beckett for a job well
done.

"He was outstanding," Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon said.
"The man has special stuff, and he had it going tonight. He had
excellent command of all his pitches."

Ugueth Urbina got four outs to earn his 28th save as the Marlins
snapped a four-game losing streak to the Pirates all within the
past week. The Pirates swept the Marlins in a three-game series
last week and won Tuesday's game 3-2.

Beckett made sure the Marlins held their ground in the wild-card
race.

"It was a nice to come back and win one," Florida manager Jack
McKeon. "It was a huge effort by Beckett. He hit in the go-ahead
run. His pitching was superb. One of his finest games. I know I say
that every time, but this one was."

Josh Fogg (8-8) took the loss for the Pirates, who had won six
of their last seven against the Marlins. Fogg, who beat Florida
last week, allowed three runs two earned and seven hits in six
innings.

Fogg's outing was decent, but it wasn't enough to match Beckett
pitch-for-pitch.

"He threw an unbelievable game," Fogg said. "He dominated us.
He was impressive."

After shutting out the Marlins for 7 2-3 innings last week, Fogg
was unable to come up with the big pitch, as Florida scored all
three runs with two out.

"Obviously, I'd like to have a few pitches back," he said.
"With two out, I didn't do the job. You have to keep them down and
not let them get the momentum in those situations."

Beckett knocked in the first run with a two-out single in the
fifth, scoring Alex Gonzalez.

The Marlins added a pair of runs one unearned in the sixth.

Luis Castillo led off with a double, and Ivan Rodriguez was hit
by a pitch. With two outs and runners on second and third, Derrek
Lee lined a single to left, scoring Castillo.

Matt Stairs was charged with an error when his throw was wide of
the plate, hit Castillo and rolled into the dugout, allowing
Rodriguez to score. A perfect throw might have been enough to nail
Castillo to keep it a one-run game.

"The way that guy was pitching, one run might have been
enough," McClendon said.

Game notes
The first four hits allowed by Fogg were doubles. ... The
Pirates have an extra-base hit in a season-high 39 straight games.
... Kendall went 1-for-4, putting his season totals against the
Marlins at 11-for-19. ... Castillo robbed the Pirates of a run by
chasing down Redman's flare into shallow left to end the third. Had
the ball dropped in, it would have allowed Jose Hernandez to easily
score from second. ... Beckett was facing the Pirates for the first
time. The only NL team Beckett hasn't faced is the Brewers. ...
Marlins 3B Miguel Cabrera has one hit in his last 33 at-bats. ...
Gonzalez picked up his 51st extra-base hit, the most since he had
50 in 1999. His fifth-inning double snapped an 0-for-23 slump.