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Marlins' Conine stars at plate, in field

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- First, Jeff Conine came through with a
clutch hit. Then, he did it with his glove and later with his arm.

Conine homered, drove in three runs and made two outstanding
defensive plays in left field, leading the Florida Marlins to an
11-4 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday night.

The Marlins increased their NL wild-card lead to 1½ games over
the Phillies. The teams play again at Veterans Stadium on Thursday
and have a three-game series in Florida next week.

"He won the game for us," winning pitcher Mark Redman said of
Conine. "He was outstanding."

Juan Pierre had four hits and a career-high four RBI for the
Marlins, who have won nine of their last 10 against Philadelphia.

Jim Thome hit his 42nd homer for the Phillies -- an
opposite-field, two-run shot that tied it at 3 in the third inning.

Redman (13-9) allowed four runs and five hits in five innings.
The left-hander was wild for the third straight start, walking
five, but pitched out of trouble.

Chad Fox tossed two shutout innings, Ugueth Urbina worked the
eighth and Nate Bump got the final three outs.

After Thome's homer, Conine hit a one-out solo shot off Brett
Myers in the fourth, giving the Marlins a 4-3 lead. It was his
second homer since coming back to Florida in a trade from Baltimore
last month.

Pierre made it 6-3 on a two-out, two-run double to left that
scored Miguel Cabrera and Alex Gonzalez, who both singled.

Conine, an original member of the Marlins and part of the
franchise's only championship team six years ago, was acquired to
help replace injured All-Star Mike Lowell. Conine was hitting .184
(9-for-49) with four RBI entering the game.

"Fortunately for my health and sanity, we won a lot of the
games I didn't come through in," Conine said.

Conine's first defensive gem came in the fifth. He made a
spectacular, spinning, one-handed catch in front of the left-field
wall on a liner by Thome, and easily doubled up Mike Lieberthal,
who walked to start the inning.

"When he jumped up and made the catch, I wanted to jump on his
back, but I figured that was too Little League," center fielder
Pierre said.

In the sixth, Conine did it with his arm.

After Jimmy Rollins hit a double, and Tomas Perez reached on a
bunt single, pinch-hitter Ricky Ledee hit a shallow fly to left.
Conine made the catch and threw a one-hop strike to the plate to
nail Rollins.

"Conine had a good night, came through with the big hit and in
the field," Phillies manager Larry Bowa said.

Myers (14-8) gave up six runs and seven hits in four innings,
losing for the first time since Aug. 10. He was 3-0 in his previous
six starts, which included back-to-back outings in which he allowed
10 runs combined but didn't lose.

"They're a scary team," Myers said.

The Phillies closed to 6-4 on Marlon Byrd's RBI single in the
fourth. But Bobby Abreu struck out with runners on second and third
to end the inning.

The Marlins scored three runs in the first on an RBI double by
Derrek Lee and a two-run double by Conine.

Pierre led off with a single and stole second. The throw from
catcher Lieberthal beat Pierre, but shortstop Rollins missed the
tag. After Luis Castillo struck out, Ivan Rodriguez walked.

Lee then bounced a double over third baseman Placido Polanco's
glove to make it 1-0. Polanco made a diving, backhanded catch on a
liner by Juan Encarnacion for the second out, but Conine stroked a
double just out of the reach of first baseman Thome.

A two-out double by Lieberthal drove in Polanco in the third,
cutting Florida's lead to 3-1. Thome then drove a 3-2 pitch deep
into the seats in left-center to tie it.

Rodriguez added an RBI single in the eighth off Turk Wendell,
and the Marlins got four runs off Valerio De Los Santos and Geoff
Geary in the ninth.

Game notes
Bowa was ejected by plate umpire Lance Barksdale in the
ninth inning after De Los Santos got a warning for hitting
Encarnacion with a pitch. It was Bowa's seventh ejection. Both
teams had problems with Barksdale's strike zone, and the Phillies
were upset about a call at the plate in eighth. ... Polanco
returned after missing 16 games with a deep bruise in his left
quadriceps. ... The Marlins have played a season-high nine straight
games without making an error. ... The start of Thursday's game was
moved up six hours to 1:05 p.m. because of Hurricane Isabel.