<
>

Something fishy: Beckett homers, pitches Marlins to win

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Josh Beckett's arm and bat helped the Florida
Marlins move closer to the NL wild-card lead.

Beckett hit his first career home run, and Miguel Cabrera and
Juan Pierre drove in three runs each to lead the Marlins over the
Washington Nationals 8-4 Thursday night.

"We've still got little more than half a month to go, probably
three-quarters of a month actually," Beckett said. "We've got to
keep winning. This thing ain't over yet."

Beckett (13-8) struck out seven in 6 2/3 innings, allowing two
runs and six hits. He had been 0-2 in three starts since beating
Milwaukee on Aug. 23.

"He got me out with fastballs, changeups, curveballs,"
Washington's Marlon Byrd said. "He was on today. ... That's the
Beckett from the World Series a couple of years ago."

Cabrera hit his 30th homer and became the first Marlins player
to reach 30 homers and 100 RBI twice. At 22 he is the youngest
major league player to accomplish the feat in consecutive seasons,
according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Albert Pujols was a few
months older when he did it in 2001-2.

Florida won three straight, outscoring Washington 24-7, after
losing the series opener. The Marlins moved within a half-game of
Houston, the NL wild-card leader, while Washington dropped four
games behind the Astros.

"It takes a while for a team to jell and I think it's starting
to come together now. It's really tough when you're losing and not
doing well to jell like that," Beckett said.

John Patterson (8-5), pitching despite a sinus infection, gave
up seven runs and nine hits in 4 2/3 innings. He had been 6-0 with
a 1.79 ERA in 15 starts at RFK Stadium.

"He's a little under the weather, so it wasn't surprising,"
Nationals manager Frank Robinson said. "He pitched like he could
go out there and go as long as he could go. But he wasn't
effective."

Washington's bullpen has been taxed this week because of short
outings by the starters. Darrell Rasner got just eight outs Tuesday
in his major league debut and John Halama got only two outs
Wednesday.

Manager Jack McKeon said the Marlins didn't want to make things
easy for Patterson.

"We took him deep into the counts. That was one of our better
games for making him pitch," McKeon said. "We're always up there
swinging at first pitches and making outs, but we took him deep
into the count."

The game drew 27,625 and increased the Nationals' home
attendance to a franchise-record 2,333,091 in the team's first
season in Washington. The previous mark was set when the Expos drew
2,320,651 to Montreal's Olympic Stadium in 1983.

Florida stole four bases on catcher Brian Schneider, and the
first two led to runs.

Luis Castillo led off the game with a single, swiped second and
scored on Cabrera's single for a 1-0 lead. Brad Wilkerson's triple
and Jose Guillen's sacrifice fly tied the score in the bottom half,
but Florida went ahead in the fourth when Damion Easley singled,
stole second and scored on Pierre's bloop single to left.

Pierre stole second on a close play, and Patterson showed his
frustration by flipping his glove into the air. He drew a rebuke
from third base umpire Tim McClelland.

"He saw me flip my glove, and that's how frustrated I am. I was
sick, there wasn't anything going right. I shouldn't have done
it," Patterson said. "He thought I was showing the umpire up."

Beckett started a five-run fifth by homering in his 180th career
at-bat. Cabrera hit an RBI single, Pierre had a two-run single that
chased Patterson, and Matt Treanor added a run-scoring single off
Travis Hughes for a 7-1 lead.

"I'm not a hitter," Beckett said. "It's cool, but like I
said, I'm not here to show anybody up. I'm not a home run hitter
now. It's just kind of part of the game."

Cristian Guzman had a run-scoring infield single in the bottom
half. Cabrera homered in the sixth off Jon Rauch.

Washington crept closer in the ninth on pinch-hitter Ryan
Zimmerman's RBI grounder and Brandon Watson's run-scoring triple.

Game notes
Beckett has pitched a career-high 158 1/3 innings, 2 1/3
innings more than last year. ... Washington's Nick Johnson drew a
walk as a pinch-hitter in the seventh. It was his first appearance
since leaving a Sept. 3 game after aggravating a right heel injury.