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Valdez shuts down Brewers in Florida debut

MIAMI (AP) -- Less than two hours after Greg Maddux earned his
300th victory, Jack McKeon notched No. 900.

The Florida Marlins manager reached the milestone Saturday when
his team beat the slumping Milwaukee Brewers 5-0. Jeff Conine hit a
grand slam, and Ismael Valdez pitched six shutout innings to win
his debut with the Marlins.

While plenty of fanfare accompanied Maddux's much rarer
achievement with the Chicago Cubs, McKeon settled for a game ball.

"I didn't want to take any of his thunder away," McKeon said
with a laugh. "But I can always remember this day -- I got mine the
same day he got his."

At 900-836, McKeon became the seventh active manager to reach
the victory plateau.

"I'd like to get 900 more, but I don't think I can last that
long," said McKeon, 73. "If you want to give me the Yankee club
for about seven years ... "

For now, McKeon is happy just to have his Marlins one game above
.500 as they try to stay in the race for a playoff berth.

Valdez (10-6), acquired a week ago in a trade with San Diego,
allowed two hits and walked three. The outing was the longest in
his past eight starts, and he reached double figures in victories
for the first time since 1998.

"It's good always to start with the right foot with a new team
and get a win," Valdez said.

The right-hander extended his streak of shutout innings against
the Brewers to 15 in a row, and he improved to 3-0 against them
this year with an ERA of 0.86.

"He gives you pitches to hit," said Milwaukee's Lyle Overbay,
who went 0-for-3. "But we're not taking advantage of them."

Valdez said he strained his left Achilles' tendon in the sixth
inning but expects to make his next scheduled start Friday at
Milwaukee.

Rudy Seanez, Billy Koch and Nate Bump allowed one hit over the
last three innings to compete the three-hitter. The Brewers were
shut out for the 10th time, second highest in the major leagues.

"We're all disappointed with the offense, the way we haven't
scored," manager Ned Yost said.

Conine put Florida ahead 4-0 in the first inning against Wes
Obermueller (3-6), who was recalled Friday from Triple-A
Indianapolis and retired only three batters.

"I dug the team in a hole," Obermueller said. "This is not
the way I pitch. It's not me."

Milwaukee has lost a season-high five consecutive games and 15
of their last 19 to fall seven below .500 for the first time this
season.

Missing from the Marlins' lineup were Paul Lo Duca, resting a
sore finger, and Mike Lowell, who had the night off. But Florida
still came up with a big first inning.

Obermueller retired the leadoff batter, then ran into trouble.
Luis Castillo reached on an infield single, Damion Easley was hit
by a pitch and Miguel Cabrera walked to load the bases.

Conine followed with his ninth homer. It was his second grand
slam in the past month, and the seventh of his career.

Obermueller was lifted after loading the bases again in the
second. Matt Wise came on, pitched out of the jam and allowed only
one hit in five innings.

Second baseman Bill Hall's error on Juan Pierre's grounder led
to an unearned run -- the sixth allowed by Milwaukee in the series.
Pierre scored in the seventh on Easley's sacrifice fly.

Game notes
The Brewers won the first 12 games in the series beginning
in 1998, but the Marlins lead 25-23. ... Milwaukee's Craig
Counsell, who scored the winning run in the 1997 World Series for
Florida, became a target of playful hoots for overzealous
baserunning. He took off from first base when Ben Grieve hit a ball
barely foul, and unaware of the call, Counsell sprinted all the way
home. That prompted a chant of "Run, run, run!" from the amused
crowd. ... Conine started a nifty 3-6-1 double play from first
base.