Series: Game 3 of 3

Florida won 2-1

Game 1: Friday, September 5
Game 2: Saturday, September 6
Game 3: Sunday, September 7

Marlins 3

(78-65, 32-39 away)

Expos 1

(72-72, 47-25 home)

    1:05 PM ET, September 7, 2003

    Hiram Bithorn Stadium, San Juan, Puerto Rico 

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    FLA 000003000 3 8 0
    MON 000000010 1 5 0

    W: D. Willis (12-6)

    L: J. Vazquez (12-10)

    S: B. Looper (27)

    Rookie treated to standing O, 12th win

    SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) -- On an afternoon when it reached 153 degrees on Hiram Bithorn Stadium's artificial turf, Dontrelle Willis kept his cool.

    Willis pitched three-hit ball into the eighth inning and the Florida Marlins beat the Montreal Expos 3-1 Sunday.

    "He pitched probably his best game of the second half," manager Jack McKeon said.

    "He answered all those critics who were saying, 'He's losing it, he's fatigued," he said.

    Willis (12-6) said he was cautious to stay hydrated during the game on his way to ending a three-game losing streak and earning his first win in his last five outings.

    "It was scorching," the All-Star rookie said. "I drank a lot of water yesterday, before the game, during the game and after."

    "At least it was easier to get loose, I guess."

    After giving up consecutive hits to Orlando Cabrera and Jose Vidro in the first, Willis retired the next 15 batters before walking Brad Wilkerson in the sixth.

    He then struck out Cabrera to end the inning. Willis struck out six and walked one.

    Willis' only mistake was a leadoff homer by Todd Zeile in the eighth, the last batter he faced.

    Ugueth Urbina relieved and Braden Looper closed for his 27th save in 31 opportunities.

    McKeon said Zeile's homer, his third in Puerto Rico, probably would have been a routine fly ball in any other park.

    "That's a flyball. That's an out. It's a disgrace," McKeon said. "Zeile better hope they play a lot of games on this park. He sure knows how to handle that short right field wall."

    Responded Zeile: "I just used the elements today. The wind helped me out."

    The Marlins took two of three games in Puerto Rico and moved within a half-game of Philadelphia in the race for the NL wild-card berth. The Phillies play the Mets on Sunday night.

    Montreal fell seven games behind.

    "Another tough loss down the stretch. Our chances are slipping away," manager Frank Robinson said.

    "This isn't over, but right now we're not into the fight."

    Javier Vazquez (12-10) looked sharp before losing control in the sixth inning and giving up four consecutive hits and giving up three runs. He had retired the first nine batters, walked Juan Pierre to open the fourth, and then sat down another five in a row.

    "I allowed those three runs and that was the game. We couldn't hit anything," Vazquez said. "Willis just manhandled us."

    Game notes

    McKeon was angry because both benches were warned after Willis threw inside to Vladimir Guerrero in the first inning with two runners on base. Two Florida batters -- Juan Encarnacion and Brian Banks -- were later hit in the sixth and ninth innings, but no one was ejected. "Why was there a warning? Because the guy pitched inside? Because he didn't hit him," McKeon argued. "They can pitch inside and hit guys, and we can't pitch inside and don't hit guys." Willis agreed. "It was not intentional. You just have to look at the situation."... Marlins 2B Luis Castillo, who can become a free agent after the season, wants a multiyear deal. "This is my sixth year here on a year-to-year contract," he said. "Now I'm looking for a two- or three- year contract. I don't want to go on like this." Castillo said he has not been approached by Marlins management to talk about his status. ... Pierre had a sixth-inning single, extending his hitting streak to 12 games. ... With Zeile's solo homer in the eighth, the Expos have homered at least once in 17 of their 18 games in Puerto Rico. Montreal broke its streak at 16 games when it didn't homer Saturday.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press