CHICAGO (AP) -- The Florida Marlins found an appropriately wild
end for their weird stay in Chicago.
The Marlins homered three times in a six-run third inning, and
Jeff Conine drove in the winning run with a walk Tuesday to lift
Florida to an 8-6 victory over the Montreal Expos at U.S. Cellular
Field. Alex Gonzalez hit a solo homer, and Conine and Miguel
Cabrera each had two-run shots.
With Hurricane Ivan bearing down on Florida, Major League
Baseball decided last week to move the first two games of the
Marlins series with the Expos from Miami to Chicago. The Windy City
is a long way from South Florida, but the Marlins took to their new
home like, well, a fish in water.
They won both games, and have now won seven of their last 10
games in Chicago.
A crowd of 5,457 turned out Tuesday, paying $15 -- $5 went to
hurricane relief -- for the rare chance to see a National League
game in an American League park.
The crowd again seemed to be split between Marlins and Expos
fans, but the Florida groupies were much more vocal Tuesday. McKeon
spent several minutes signing autographs before the game, and fans
gave him a standing ovation when he argued with umpires over a
no-call on fan interference.
"We like Chicago and the enthusiasm of our fans," McKeon said
before the game.
He also liked the hospitality of White Sox manager Ozzie
Guillen, who was the Marlins' third-base coach last year. McKeon
pointed out when he got to Guillen's office Monday that Guillen
hadn't left him any cigars.
When McKeon arrived Tuesday, there was a pack of five cigars
waiting for him.
"He sent me a note saying, `I'm sorry I forgot the cigars,"
Asked if they were any good, McKeon said, "I haven't tried 'em
He might want to light up a celebratory one as the Marlins head
back south Tuesday night.
The Marlins chased Scott Downs after the third inning. Florida's
Alex Gonzalez got things started with a solo homer, his 20th of the
season. Pitcher Ismael Valdez reached on an error -- Montreal's
fourth in two days -- and Juan Pierre singled. One out later, Paul
Lo Duca hit a sac fly to give Florida a 2-1 lead.
Cabrera then followed with a homer off the foul pole in left
field and, one batter later, Jeff Conine homered to make it 6-1.
Though Downs gave up three homers and six runs, only one of them
was earned. And his teammates bailed him out, getting some help
from an overeager fan in the sixth inning.
When Brian Schneider hit a grounder down the right-field line, a
fan reached onto the field and appeared to pick up the ball.
Schneider was credited with a double, but pinch-runner Ryan Church
scored from first on the play, cutting Florida's lead to 6-3.
McKeon protested, but the call stood. The Cubs fans in the
audience cheered, maybe thinking they were getting some payback for
the fan who interfered with the foul ball in Game 6 of last year's
But the Marlins loaded the bases against Luis Ayala (5-11) in
the seventh inning. Conine fouled off the first pitch he saw from
Ayala and then took four straight balls to walk in the go-ahead
run. Juan Encarnacion followed with a sac fly for an insurance run.
Guillermo Mota worked the eighth and ninth to earn his fourth
save, but not without difficulty. He loaded the bases with two outs
before getting Church to fly out to right.
The teams now head back to Florida for a doubleheader Wednesday,
a move that didn't sit too well with Expos manager Frank Robinson.
There's rain in the forecast in Miami, and Robinson said it doesn't
make sense to move the games.
"This is the more sure thing right here," Robinson said before
the game. "You've got a major league stadium and the weather is
supposed to be good. I know you're not playing in front of your
hometown fans, but still, under the circumstances, this is the best
thing to do right here."
After their success in Chicago, the Marlins probably wouldn't
Montreal's Terrmel Sledge dislocated the pinky finger on
his left hand sliding back to first base in the sixth inning. He
was replaced by Church.