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Marlins barely escape ninth vs. Cubs

7/8/2003

CHICAGO (AP) -- The Florida Marlins beat the Chicago Cubs with a
rookie. It just wasn't the one everyone expected.

Brought into the game after a rain delay chased Dontrelle
Willis, Nate Bump worked out of a bases-loaded jam, then let the
Florida offense take over. Ivan Rodriguez and Luis Castillo
responded with back-to-back homers in the seventh, and the Marlins
withstood a ninth-inning rally for a 4-3 victory.

"The kid did a good job coming in," Marlins manager Jack
McKeon said of Bump, who was called up from Triple-A on June 29.
"I threw that kid right in the fire."

Bump (2-0) gave up just one hit and one run -- a solo homer by
Sammy Sosa -- in 2 1-3 innings. Braden Looper pitched the ninth for
his 16th save in 19 chances, but the Cubs made him work for it.

Ramon Martinez drew a leadoff walk, and Damian Miller doubled
just inside the left-field line. Martinez scored on Tom Goodwin's
groundout, and the Cubs pulled within a run on Mark Grudzielanek's
RBI single to shallow left.

Looper then walked pinch-hitter Lenny Harris, putting the tying
run in scoring position. Moises Alou followed with a liner toward
second, but Castillo made a leaping grab to rob him of a hit.

That brought up Sosa, who hit a high pop to third, ending the
game. It was the 10th loss in 14 games for the Cubs.

"You can't go get drunk every time you have a bad game, or
you'd be drunk all the time," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. "So
these are the games where you sit around, you think about it ...
and try not to take it home to your wife and family. They know how
you feel.

"I'll find something to do for the next hour or so, so I can go
home and at least be decent company."

The Cubs' biggest problem figured to be Willis, the left-handed
rookie who is drawing comparisons to Fernando Valenzuela with his
old-school windup and sparkling record. Willis is 7-0 in his last
nine starts, with an ERA of just 0.85. Overall, he's 8-1 with a
1.98 ERA.

And the Cubs used to have him.

Chicago drafted Willis in the eighth round of the 2000 amateur
draft, but they sent him to Florida last year during spring
training as part of the deal for Antonio Alfonseca and Matt
Clement.

The Cubs managed just two hits off Willis through the first five
innings, putting a runner in scoring position twice. But as the
rain started to fall in the bottom of the sixth, they finally
appeared to be figuring him out.

With one out, Sosa worked Willis for 10 pitches before doubling
to right. Eric Karros followed with a single off Mike Lowell's
glove, giving the Cubs runners at the corners. After Jose Hernandez
struck out for the second out, though, the game was delayed.

"I just wanted to stay in the ball game," Willis said. "I had
a mess out there, and I wanted to clean it up."

Instead, Bump came in. He got off to a rocky start, hitting
Trenidad Hubbard to load the bases. But he retired Miller on a fly
to center to end the threat.

"He wanted to finish the game, but he understood. He's got a
good future and we're not going to jeopardize it," McKeon said of
Willis. "He's a tough kid, he's a competitor. This wasn't his
sharpest game. His control wasn't as sharp as it usually is."

Neither was Mike Remlinger's.

With one out in the seventh, Castillo opened the scoring with a
homer off Remlinger, sending the ball over the left-field fence and
bouncing down Waveland Avenue. It was Castillo's sixth homer of the
year.

The Wrigley Field fans who'd stuck around through the rain had
barely finished booing Remlinger when Rodriguez homered into the
left-field bleachers on an 0-2 pitch.

It was Rodriguez's 13th homer this season and his second in two
days. He hit a solo homer Monday night.

He added an RBI single in the eighth inning off Alfonseca.

"You've got to get the next out, no matter who's hitting,"
Remlinger said. "Bottom line in that situation -- I expect to get
outs."

Remlinger (5-3) allowed two homers and a walk in two-thirds of
an inning, facing five batters.

"I know when I'm good and when I'm not. When I'm not, I don't
expect people to cheer for me," Remlinger said. "I think I'd be
booing if I was sitting up there today."

Game notes
The back-to-back homers were Florida's first since May 25.
... Rodriguez is hitting .414 over his last 14 games with five
homers and 21 RBI. ... The victory snapped Florida's five-game
losing streak against the Cubs. ... The Marlins have homered 19
times in their last 13 games.