MIAMI (AP) -- The Florida Marlins couldn't have picked a better
time to break out of their slump.
The Marlins scored their first run in 25 innings in the eighth
and added two more in the ninth as Florida rallied for a 3-2 win
over the Montreal Expos on Friday night.Pinch-hitter Brian Banks' run-scoring single with one out in the
bottom of the ninth gave the Marlins their second win in 10 games
and their 16th walkoff victory of the season.The Marlins had runners on first and second when Banks hit a 2-2
pitch off reliever Rocky Biddle over the head of right fielder
Vladimir Guerrero, scoring Derrek Lee."It was just a situation where you hope it will carry far
enough into the gap," Banks said. "Off the bat, I thought it would,
but then you have to think about who's out there. I know Vladi can
go out and get it. When I saw it carry over his head, I started
celebrating immediately."Trailing 2-1, the Marlins had runners on second and third with
one out. They scored the tying run when Expos third baseman Jamey Carroll, who had just entered the game for defensive purposes,
bobbled a hard-hit grounder by Alex Gonzalez. Carroll threw home
but Juan Encarnacion slid under the tag. Carroll was not charged
with an error."I put Jamey in for defensive purposes," Expos manager Frank
Robinson said. "He's a little quicker on the slow rollers and has
a stronger arm. I don't second-guess that move. It was a tough
loss."Braden Looper (5-3) got the win for Florida, which remained tied
for the NL wild-card lead. Montreal fell a game back in the tight
race.Biddle (4-8) failed for his seventh blown save this season for
Montreal, which lost for the first time in six games."I wasn't aggressive enough in the strike zone," Biddle said.
"I was trying to pick too much, looking for the perfect pitch
instead of trusting my stuff."T.J. Tucker pitched six scoreless innings for the Expos,
striking out three and scattering five hits."I did my job and kept them in the ballgame," said Tucker, who
watched the Marlins' ninth-inning rally from the clubhouse. "I
can't control that. We took a bad loss tonight. We have to come
back. Stuff happens. It's baseball."Brad Wilkerson led off the game with a homer, a 428-foot shot to
center field."We had the game under control and had the momentum and they
just battled back," Wilkerson said. "Mistakes killed us. This is
tough to deal with. We had it right there."Montreal went ahead 2-0 in the third inning. Wilkerson walked,
went to third on a double by Orlando Cabrera and scored on a
sacrifice fly by Jose Vidro. Cabrera had three of the Expos six
hits.Florida scored a run in the eighth inning when Juan Pierre
scored from third on a groundout by Ivan Rodriguez."We knew it would break sooner or later," Marlins manager Jack
McKeon said of the scoreless streak. "It couldn't happen in a
better way. This was a big win to get the monkey off our backs. We
needed a lift like this, no question about it."Josh Beckett pitched seven innings for Florida and gave up five
hits and struck out seven."We needed to win one to put us back on track," Beckett said.
"There's no better way to win. You don't want to win them all like
this but it's something we needed tonight."
Wilkerson's leadoff home run was the third of his career
and the third for the Expos this season. Endy Chavez had the other
two, and Wilkerson had two last season. ... Expos starters have
allowed two earned runs or fewer in 19 of their past 28 games. ...
Luis Castillo extended his hitting streak to 13 games. ... The
Marlins allowed fans to bring their dogs to Friday's game as the
Bark at the Park promotion. Tickets for dogs were $5, with proceeds
benefiting the Humane Society, and 250 dogs attended the game. ...
The Expos purchased the contract of right-hander Chad Cordero from
Class A Brevard County, Fla., and optioned right-hander Roy
Corcoran to Triple-A Edmonton. Montreal also transferred third
baseman Fernando Tatis from the 15- to the 60-day disabled list.