Encarnacion, Marlins sweep away Phillies


MIAMI (AP) -- A visitor to the office of Florida Marlins manager
Jack McKeon offered congratulations late Thursday night.

"We didn't do anything yet," McKeon responded.

That's not quite right. With an 8-4 victory, the surprising
Marlins completed a sweep of their crucial three-game series
against Philadelphia to clinch a tie for the NL wild card and
eliminate the Phillies.

If the Marlins beat the New York Mets on Friday, they'll earn
their first playoff berth since winning the 1997 World Series.

"We're not ready to celebrate," said McKeon, 72, who has never
managed in the postseason. "We haven't completed our job."

But the unaccustomed pressure of a playoff race has failed to
faze the young Marlins (89-70). They've won four games in a row to
climb a season-high 19 above .500.

"It's no time to get scared," said Juan Pierre, who went
2-for-2 to reach 200 hits. "I think our team is nervous but not
scared. That's why we're playing as well as we are."

Juan Encarnacion sparked the latest victory with a homer and
four RBI. Brad Penny (14-10) pitched eight innings for the
Marlins, who won for the 14th time in their past 16 home games.

"It's not over yet," Penny said. "Pretty close. As close as
we can be."

The Phillies led the wild-card standings Saturday but have lost
five consecutive games since. They finished 6-13 against Florida
this season and lost their final seven games in Miami.

"There are no excuses," manager Larry Bowa said. "The Marlins
beat us. They beat us all year, and that's the difference between
where we are and where they're going."

Jim Thome hit his NL-leading 45th home run, but Philadelphia did
little else right. Randy Wolf (16-10) lasted just four innings, his
second-shortest outing this season. Jose Mesa ignited a three-run
sixth when the ball slipped from his hand on a throw to first and
rolled into the outfield, missing his nearest teammate by 20 feet.

"We just didn't play well. They played better," Thome said.
"We would score, and they would come back and score more."

The first four innings were played in light rain after the start
was delayed 18 minutes. But despite the weather, the game drew
31,935 fans, and they were loud.

Jeff Conine earned a standing ovation when he raced to the
left-field wall to make a running catch and rob Jimmy Rollins of an
extra-base hit. Pierre earned another standing ovation when he
bunted for his 200th hit, becoming the first Florida player to
reach the milestone.

McKeon flip-flopped Pierre and Luis Castillo at the top of the
order against the left-handed Wolf, and the strategy paid off.
Castillo reached base three times and Pierre four.

Penny threw 126 pitches and improved to 3-0 in three starts
against the Phillies this season. He allowed seven hits and four
runs and struck out Thome three times.

Florida rallied from a 1-0 deficit with four runs in the third.
Pierre singled with one out, Derrek Lee singled with two outs and
Miguel Cabrera singled home a run.

Encarnacion then hit his 19th homer -- his second in as many
nights, and his fifth extra-base hit in the series. He added an RBI
infield single in the sixth.

Alex Gonzalez doubled home a run in the fifth after fouling off
six consecutive two-strike pitches. Conine singled home two runs in
the sixth to make it 8-2.

Wolf, who lost for the first time in his past five decisions,
allowed seven hits and four runs. The Marlins are 27-11 against
left-handed starters, best in the major leagues.

"There's no finger-pointing at anybody," Wolf said. "It goes
through all 25 guys. You've got to stay consistent. The Marlins did
a good job of that."

Game notes
Phillies 3B David Bell, still bothered by a back injury
that sidelined him for 2{ months, left the game in the fifth
inning. ... Wolf fell to 2-9 against the Marlins with a 5.53 ERA.
... McKeon was unhappy that umpire Joe West's crew started the game
in the rain. "We didn't want to see anyone get hurt," McKeon
said. "There's a lot of money tied up in these players."