Sat, Oct 25, 2003 - Page 20 News List

Game 5 win puts Marlins in the swim

TOUCHING DISTANCE Despite being written off by the experts leading into postseason, Florida now finds itself one game away from clinching the World Series

AP , MIAMI

Florida Marlins catcher Ivan Rodriguez celebrates after the Marlins defeated the New York Yankees 6-4 in Game 5 of the World Series on Thursday at Pro Player Stadium in Miami, Florida.

PHOTO: REUTERS

Cool, confident and even a little bit cocky, the Florida Marlins are just one win from another championship after beating the banged-up and bumbling New York Yankees 6-4 in Game 5.

Brad Penny pumped his fist like crazy when he escaped his final threat and Alex Gonzalez struck again with his Hall of Fame-bound bat as the Marlins seized a 3-2 lead with a surprisingly easy victory Thursday night.

"I think the whole country now really sees what kind of players these guys are," Marlins manager Jack McKeon said.

Down 6-1, the Yankees again did not give up. But when Bernie Williams' bid for a tying two-run homer in the ninth was caught a few meters from the wall, their best chance was gone.

"It was a little scary," McKeon said.

The sellout crowd of 65,975 at Pro Player Stadium pulsated all evening as Florida moved to the brink of an amazing upset. One man paid tribute in his own way -- in the late innings, he ran across the entire outfield wearing only a Marlins cap.

Yankees owner George Steinbrenner could merely shake his head after seeing this sudden reversal of fortune. The Boss' club looked like a shell of itself, hardly the caliber of team that has won four of the last seven championships.

Slumping Alfonso Soriano was benched, Jason Giambi was hurt and starter David Wells left after one inning with an injury, leaving a lineup more suited to play Tampa Bay in June than Florida in October. Giambi hit a home run in the ninth as a pinch hitter to make it 6-3.

Earlier this week, after Mike Mussina sent the Yankees to their second straight 6-1 win in Game 3, it looked as if they might simply overwhelm the wild-card Marlins and take the title in Miami. At least, it might have appeared that way to anyone who had never seen Florida.

Not anymore, not after Florida won in extra innings in Game 4 after blowing a lead in the ninth and then held on in its final home game of the season.

Still, the Marlins' path to their second title in seven years is a treacherous one that leads right through Yankee Stadium.

Game 2 winner Andy Pettitte tries to save New York's season when he starts Game 6 Saturday night. Ever cautious, McKeon did not announce his starter, even after this victory.

This will mark the first time since 1981 that the Yankees faced elimination at home in the World Series. That year, the Los Angeles Dodgers finished them off in Game 6.

"We haven't been down this road many times," Yankees manager Joe Torre said.

Penny mowed down the Yankees for seven innings, giving up one earned run to earn his second win of the series. He also took the opener, an impressive week for a guy who went 14-10 this year and lost his rotation spot in the NLCS after a bad outing.

"They got me a lead early, and it's nice to go up there with a big lead," Penny said.

Bothered by an apparent blister, Penny gave up an RBI single to Derek Jeter in the seventh. Down 6-2, New York went on to load the bases with two outs before Williams -- baseball's career postseason leaders in homers and RBIs -- hit a routine fly that got Penny celebrating.

Dontrelle Willis pitched a scoreless eighth and reliever Braden Looper gave up Giambi's homer in the ninth. The Yankees never give up, and Jeter followed with a single for his third hit.

After Enrique Wilson's RBI double, Ugueth Urbina took over and faced the tying run. A night after giving up pinch-hitter Ruben Sierra's tying, two-run triple with two outs in the ninth, Urbina got Williams on the long fly ball.

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