Final

Series: Game 3 of 3

Tampa Bay won 2-1

Game 1: Friday, July 2
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Game 2: Saturday, July 3
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Game 3: Sunday, July 4
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Devil Rays 3

(40-39, 17-21 away)

Marlins 4

(42-40, 21-19 home)

    3:05 PM ET, July 4, 2004

    Sun Life Stadium, Miami, Florida 

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    W: A. Burnett (1-3)

    L: J. Halama (4-3)

    S: A. Benitez (27)

    Burnett sat out all of 2003 with injury

    MIAMI (AP) -- Sitting in the clubhouse with ice bags wrapped tightly around his right shoulder and elbow, A.J. Burnett pumped his fist after the final out.

    It was a small celebration for a big victory.

    Burnett won for the first time in nearly two years, Miguel Cabrera hit his 20th homer and the Florida Marlins snapped a four-game losing streak with a 4-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays on Sunday.

    "It's definitely good to get back on track," Burnett said.

    Burnett gave up six hits and three runs in 7 2/3 innings and won for the first time since Aug. 18, 2002 -- ending a career-high winless span of 15 outings. He struck out six, walked none and even got his first hit of the season.

    The hard-throwing right-hander missed most of last season and part of this one while recovering from elbow surgery.

    "His fastball was jumping and he had a sharp curve," Tampa Bay's Aubrey Huff said. "That was one of the best performances against us that I've seen this year. He had a lot of things working for him."

    Burnett (1-3) made his seventh start of the season Sunday on three days' rest after throwing just 30 pitches in a rain-shortened start in Atlanta. He came out strong, allowing three singles through seven innings before running into trouble in the eighth.

    Fred McGriff and pinch-hitter Tino Martinez each doubled to break up the shutout. Then Carl Crawford followed with a two-run homer, his fourth, that made it 4-3 and sent Burnett to the bench.

    Armando Benitez got the final four outs for his 27th save in 29 chances.

    "We made it a close one," Rays manager Lou Piniella said. "Anytime you win two out of three you're not going to complain. We had a chance to win it or at least tie it in the ninth, but we couldn't come up with enough."

    The Rays lost for just the fifth time in 19 games and finished interleague play 15-3 after going 3-15 last season.

    "We're not going to play 30-10 ball forever, but we're capable of playing real good baseball," Piniella said.

    The Marlins, who entered the game having scored just five runs in their last 33 innings, hit three homers and led 4-0 after six innings.

    Damion Easley, subbing for second baseman Luis Castillo, hit a two-run shot in the third off John Halama (4-3). It was his fifth of the season and helped the Marlins win for just the sixth time in 16 games.

    "We've got to string some wins together," Easley said. "But you need that first one before you can get the second."

    Cabrera made it 3-0 with a solo shot in the fifth. And Alex Gonzalez hit his ninth homer in the sixth, also a solo shot.

    Cabrera doubled and singled in his first two at-bats, and the home run left him a triple short of hitting for the cycle. He grounded out in his final at-bat.

    Halama gave up seven hits and three runs in five innings. He also hit three batters.

    Burnett hit a bloop single in the third that landed between second baseman Geoff Blum and right fielder Jose Cruz Jr. They appeared confused as to who called the ball.

    Two batters later, and with two outs, Easley drove Halama's pitch over the wall in left.

    "We needed this victory big time because we've been in a rut," Burnett said.

    Game notes


    McGriff, seven homers shy of 500, made his fifth start of the season at first base and went 1-for-3 with a double. ... The Marlins have had three four-game losing streaks this season, the same number they had all of last year. ... Rocco Baldelli made his first start in center field since June 23, when he injured his left quadriceps muscle. He went 2-for-4.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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