Marlins one step away

Yankees go down, 6-4, in Game 5 as Series shifts back to New York

Penny helps Florida take 3-2 lead

Late N.Y. rally falls short

`It was a little scary in the ninth,' McKeon says

World Series

October 24, 2003|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,SUN STAFF

MIAMI - Forgive the Florida Marlins for having a limited sense of history. That's what happens when you've only been playing baseball for 11 years.

They were supposed to step aside for the long-suffering Chicago Cubs in the National League Championship Series, but stepped on them instead. They were supposed to be small-revenue fodder for the New York Yankees' title machine, but they are not cooperating this time either.

Now, it is the mighty Yankees who might be the next victim of the little wild-card team that could.

The Marlins scored a 6-4 victory last night in Game 5 of the 99th World Series and moved one win away from their second unlikely world championship in the past seven seasons.

Right-hander Brad Penny, who briefly lost his place in the Marlins' rotation after a rocky outing in the NLCS, pitched seven strong innings and knocked in two runs with a single on the way to his second World Series victory.

That was almost enough, but the delighted sellout crowd of 65,975 at Pro Player Stadium was treated to a relatively generous offensive performance by the Marlins, who had averaged just over two runs per game through the first four games of the best-of-seven Fall Classic and had to feel lucky to enter last night with the Series tied at two apiece after being outscored, 17-9.

The Marlins also had to feel fortunate that on this night, the Yankees were a shell of their large-market selves, trying to get by with a lineup that did not include superstar Jason Giambi or regular leadoff man Alfonso Soriano. Starting pitcher David Wells quickly fell by the wayside, too, leaving manager Joe Torre to play bullpen roulette from the second inning on.

Cuban pitcher Jose Contreras gave up three quick runs in the second inning and one in the fourth.

Then the Yankees made a key defensive blunder to set up two more runs in the fifth off Chris Hammond, which allowed the Marlins to enjoy a largely stress-free night until the Yankees attempted to stage another ninth-inning rally like the one that extended Game 4 into extra innings.

Giambi hit a pinch-hit home run off reliever Braden Looper, and the Yankees brought the tying run to the plate against closer Ugueth Urbina, but a deep fly ball by Bernie Williams was caught at the warning track and a sharp one-hopper by Hideki Matsui was picked nicely by first baseman Derrek Lee to end the game.

"It was a little scary in the ninth," said Marlins manager Jack McKeon, "but our guys, they seem to be able to get out of most of those jams most of the time. They didn't [Wednesday] night, but we were able to come back and win. We are able to get out of it. It gets a little scary once in a while."

The Yankees appeared to be in control after they defeated Marlins ace Josh Beckett in Game 3, but they now trail in the Series, 3-2, and must sweep the final two games at Yankee Stadium to win their fifth world title in eight years.

The Marlins need only a split, of course, but third baseman Mike Lowell said they will not approach it from that perspective.

"I think what we're looking at is one out of one," Lowell said. "I think we've taken it one game at a time, especially in Chicago when our backs were against the wall. I think we took Game 5 and focused on that. Then we got past that test and went to Game 6. I don't think we're going to take this any different."

The scene shifts back to the Bronx, where the Yankees have 21-game winner Andy Pettitte set to go in Game 6 and former Orioles ace Mike Mussina ready if there is a Game 7. The Marlins have not yet announced their pitching plans.

"We are a very confident ballclub," Torre said. "When you lose your starting pitcher like we did tonight, and make an error and fall behind by five runs, I'm proud of the way my ballclub fought and nearly came back.

"We are very confident in Andy Pettitte. We need a win on Saturday and he's been there many times, and Moose will pitch Sunday. So, going into Games 6 and 7, I'd rather be up 3-2 than down 3-2, but I feel good about who we have pitching."

The Yankees may have a $180 million payroll, but they looked like an embarrassment of riches last night. Torre pulled the slumping Soriano from the starting lineup and had to scratch Giambi with a sore knee less than an hour before the game.

If that wasn't bad enough, Wells fell victim to back spasms and had to leave the game after only one inning.

Wells retired the side in order in the first, but it was obvious something was wrong because Contreras began warming up in the top of the second. Torre said that pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre had warned him before the game that Wells' chronic back ailment might be an issue.

"During the national anthem, Mel made his way down the dugout," Torre said. "He wanted to know which alternative way we were going to go. You always have to be sort of prepared. You could see just by his body language in the first inning [that] he was having a tough time just bending over and trying to throw his pitches."

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