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Penny tosses 7.2 shutout innings

5/5/2004

MIAMI (AP) -- The Florida Marlins jumped out to an early lead, as
they've done a lot lately. And this time they held on.

Brad Penny pitched 7 2-3 shutout innings to become the Marlins'
career leader in victories, and they broke a four-game losing
streak by beating the Los Angeles Dodgers 2-0 on Wednesday night.

The Marlins, who blew leads of at least two runs in each defeat
during their skid, scored twice in the first inning against Jeff
Weaver (1-4).

Penny, Matt Perisho and Armando Benitez protected the lead --
with help from Milton Bradley, who grounded into three double
plays.

"Our backs were against the wall, because we had lost a few in
a row," Penny said. "It's nice to go out and start a winning
streak."

Perisho struck out pinch hitter Olmedo Saenz with two on to end
the eighth. Benitez, who blew a save for the first time this season
in Tuesday's loss to Los Angeles, earned his 11th when Bradley
bounced into a 4-6-3 double play to end the game.

Penny (3-1) earned his 43rd victory to break the team record of
42 he shared with Ryan Dempster, who pitched for Florida from 1998
to 2002.

"It's nice," Penny said. "But this team hasn't been around
long enough for me to be too excited about it."

There may be a lot more wins to come for the 25-year-old Penny,
who allowed four hits and one walk while lowering his ERA to 2.18.

"He has probably been the most consistent pitcher we've had
this year," manager Jack McKeon said. "He has really matured. I
think he's on a mission."

The Marlins earned their fifth shutout. The Dodgers totaled just
five hits and were shut out for the first time.

"It really had nothing to do with us not swinging the bat,"
Dodgers manager Jim Tracy said. "It had everything to do with Brad
Penny and the way he pitched."

Penny had some defensive help from the Marlins, who committed
four errors Tuesday. Third baseman Lowell and first baseman Hee
Seop Choi robbed the Dodgers of hits with back-to-back defensive
gems in the fourth.

The game between division leaders drew 13,308 fans, a slight
increase on the Marlins' smallest crowd of the season Tuesday.

Juan Pierre led off the Florida first with a single, stole
second and scored on a triple off the scoreboard by Abraham Nunez.
Mike Lowell then singled in the game's only other run.

Nunez made just his fifth start of the year to give slumping
Miguel Cabrera a night off.

The game was the first for Weaver in Miami since he gave up a
game-ending homer to Alex Gonzalez while pitching for the New York
Yankees in Game 4 of last year's World Series. The right-hander
allowed six hits and two runs in seven innings, and Gonzalez went
0-for-3 against him.

"I want to keep this going, and hopefully string more games
like this together," said Weaver, who lowered his ERA to 5.40.
"Eventually things will turn and we'll be on the winning side of
these kind of games."

Adrian Beltre led off the Dodgers' sixth with a double, but was
stranded there when Penny retired the next three batters. Beltre
again doubled in the eighth and took third on a single by Alex
Cora, sending Penny to the showers, but Perisho escaped the jam.

"This gets us back on track," Perisho said. "We've squandered
a lot of leads. With our five starters, I don't think there are
going to be too many losing streaks. I personally can't believe we
lost four in a row."<

^Notes:@ Marlins 2B Luis Castillo was held out of the lineup for
the second game in a row with a fractured left pinkie. He may
return Thursday. ... The Marlins have scored 31 runs in the first
inning and 98 in all other innings. ... Jeff Conine was 0-for-10
lifetime against Weaver before he singled in the first inning. ...
The Dodgers' bullpen is 5-0 this season. ... First base umpire Paul
Emmel ruled Lowell out on a foul fly down the right-field line in
the eighth, but TV replays showed the ball deflected off the glove
of Juan Encarnacion and hit the ground.