Final in 11

Series: Game 2 of 4

Series tied 1-1 (as of 9/20)

Game 1: Friday, September 19
Florida0Final
Atlanta1
Game 2: Saturday, September 20
Florida6Final
in 11
Atlanta5
Game 3: Sunday, September 21
Florida0Final
Atlanta8
Game 4: Monday, September 22
Florida6Final
Atlanta3

Marlins 6

(85-69, 37-42 away)

Braves 5

(96-59, 52-25 home)

    7:05 PM ET, September 20, 2003

    Turner Field, Atlanta, Georgia 

    1234567891011 R H E
    FLA 03001010001 6 10 0
    ATL 00010002200 5 11 1

    W: R. Helling (8-8)

    L: W. Cunnane (2-2)

    Helling preserves big Florida victory

    ATLANTA (AP) -- The Florida Marlins regained the NL wild-card lead, thanks to a rookie who started the season at Double-A Carolina.

    Miguel Cabrera homered in the 11th inning and Florida rebounded after blowing a four-run lead to beat the Atlanta Braves 6-5 Saturday night.

    The Marlins pulled a half-game ahead of the Philadelphia Phillies, who lost 2-0 to the Cincinnati Reds.

    "Of course we knew they lost," Florida's Juan Pierre said. "We knew we had to win regardless. Every game counts right now."

    Cabrera lined a pitch from Will Cunnane (2-2) into the seats in left leading off the 11th. Afterward, Cabrera didn't speak with reporters.

    The Braves tied it with two runs in the ninth off closer Braden Looper. Javy Lopez cut it to 5-4 with his 42nd homer of the season -- and 41st as a catcher. That matched the major league record for backstops set by Todd Hundley of the New York Mets in 1996.

    "Finally, I got it out of the way," Lopez said. "I can go out there and relax. To tie the record is what you try to do, now I'm just going to let it happen. If it doesn't happen, at least I have a place in history."

    Looper then walked Vinny Castilla, who was replaced by pinch-runner Jesse Garcia, and pinch-hitter Julio Franco singled to move Garcia to third.

    Then Mark DeRosa lined a single to left to bring in Garcia with the tying run. It was Looper's sixth blown save in 34 chances, and he's blown three saves in his past five appearances against the Braves.

    Gary Sheffield singled leading off the 10th, the 2,000th hit of his career, and Atlanta loaded the bases twice. But Michael Tejera retired Rafael Furcal on a popup and pinch-hitter Johnny Estrada flied out against Rick Helling (1-0).

    "We were winning the whole game, it would have been a one-game swing if we'd lost," Helling said. "That's obvious, but the mental side of it, too, wouldn't have been too good."

    Atlanta closer John Smoltz pitched for the first time since Aug. 23, retiring Pierre on a groundout in the ninth inning before giving way to Ray King. Smoltz was activated from the disabled list before the game after missing nearly a month with tendinitis in his right elbow.

    "I needed to get out there and accomplish a lot of things," Smoltz said. "One was just to walk through that gate. It felt awkward, but actually things slowed down for me out there. I probably didn't go at it like I will."

    The Braves set a franchise record by using nine pitchers, and matched a franchise mark by using 26 players.

    Marcus Giles became the sixth Atlanta player to reach 20 home runs this season, helping the Braves tie the NL record. The Milwaukee Braves set the mark in 1965.

    Brad Penny pitched five-hit ball for seven innings and tied a career high with three RBI for the Marlins before the bullpen blew the lead.

    Atlanta closed to 5-3 in the eighth on Sheffield's two-run homer off Ugueth Urbina.

    Penny left his previous start -- also against Atlanta -- with a hyperextended elbow after getting two outs in the first inning. He allowed three runs on two hits in that game, which the Marlins won 5-4.

    But he had few problems Saturday night. He retired his first seven batters before Castilla singled in the third, then set down eight of the last 10 he faced. Penny struck out two.

    Penny provided the early offense with a three-run double in the second off Horacio Ramirez, his first hit in nearly two months.

    "It's pretty tough when you go through nine innings and your pitcher's got most of the runs," Florida manager Jack McKeon quipped.

    Penny outpitched Ramirez, who gave up four runs on seven hits in only 4 2-3 innings. Ramirez also walked five after allowing only two free passes in his previous five starts.

    In the fourth inning, Giles hit a 3-2 pitch from Penny into the left-field seats and cut the Marlins' lead to 3-1. He joined Lopez, Sheffield, Andruw Jones, Chipper Jones and Castilla with at least 20 homers.

    The previous high for Giles was nine in 2001.

    The major league record is seven players with at least 20 homers, which has been done twice according to the Elias Sports Bureau, baseball's statistician: the 1996 Baltimore Orioles and the 2000 Toronto Blue Jays.

    The Marlins added a run in the fifth on a single by Cabrera, then made it 5-1 in the seventh on a sacrifice fly by Juan Encarnacion.

    Game notes


    Penny also had three RBI on June 3 against Oakland. ... The Braves also activated RHP Kevin Gryboski, who's been out since Aug. 28 with a small tear in his right labrum, a piece of cartilage that stabilizes the shoulder. In 61 games, he's 6-4 with a 4.10 ERA in 41 2-3 innings. ... The Braves last used 26 players Sept. 9, 2000, against Montreal.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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