Marlins 10, Phillies 8

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PHILADELPHIA (AP)—Armando Benitez really had to work for this save.

Not only were the bases loaded with one out in the eighth inning when Marlins manager Jack McKeon called on his closer, but Benitez had to face Jason Michaels with a 3-1 count.

“I told him, ‘I put you in tough spot, but you’re the only one I know can do it,”’ McKeon said.

Did he ever. Benitez struck out Michaels and bailed the Marlins out to save Florida’s 10-8 win Thursday over the Philadelphia Phillies.

“I have to come in right away with my best stuff,” said Benitez, who then got Mike Lieberthal to fly out on the first pitch. “Everybody knows what I can do and I did it.”

Alex Gonzalez and Jeff Conine each hit three-run homers, and Mike Redmond added a solo shot, helping Florida move within two games of the Phillies and Atlanta for the NL East lead.

The Phillies, who blew a slim wild-card lead over World Series champion Florida down the stretch last season, snapped a nine-game losing streak against the Marlins on Wednesday dating to September.

The Marlins are still 7-1 against the Phillies this year.

Carl Pavano (10-4) and the Marlins looked ready to start another streak after scoring four runs in the fourth inning and five more in the fifth. Then Chase Utley nearly rallied the Phillies to their 31st come-from-behind win.

With the Phillies trailing 10-4, Utley hit a two-run, pinch-hit homer in the sixth. He added a two-out, two-run double in the seventh that made it 10-8.

Utley also singled in the ninth, and his four RBIs matched a career high.

No one else came close to touching Benitez.

Down by two runs, the Phillies loaded the bases against Billy Koch in the eighth on a walk to Bobby Abreu, a single by Jim Thome and a one-out walk to Pat Burrell.

When the count went to 3-1 on Michaels, McKeon took out Koch and brought in Benitez.

After Benitez got two quick outs, the sellout crowd that just moments earlier was going wild was quickly silenced.

“I have a tremendous amount of faith and trust that he could do that,” McKeon said.

Benitez then worked the ninth for his 33rd save in 36 chances. Eighteen of his 20 pitches were strikes.

Florida’s Juan Pierre never doubted Benitez.

“It’s a tough situation for him to come in to, but he’s done that before and he always gets us out,” said Pierre, who went 3-for-5. “I’ve never seen anything like that—a guy to come in and look so determined.”

The Phillies could use a few more pitchers with that look.

Randy Wolf (4-6) failed to go deep in the game for the fifth time in his last six starts. He gave up eight hits and six earned runs in four innings and was booed when he was pulled after pitching to two batters in the fifth.

“Eight hits in four innings is not a good sign,” manager Larry Bowa said, shaking his head. “He said he’s all right.”

Wolf added: “I need to make better pitches and I’m not doing that right now.”

The Phillies led 2-0 when the Marlins broke it open in the fourth.

Mike Lowell and Miguel Cabrera opened the fourth with singles and Conine hit his seventh homer of the season. With two outs, Redmond ended an 0-for-22 slump with his second home run.

Wolf again gave up two straight singles to start the fifth before he was yanked. Geoff Geary relieved and promptly allowed a first-pitch, RBI double to Lowell.

After an out and an intentional walk, Conine hit a sacrifice fly for a 6-2 lead. Conine had four RBIs. Gonzalez followed with a three-run shot for his 14th homer of the year.

Pavano had two no-decisions this year against the Phillies and breezed through the first five innings until running into trouble in the sixth. He gave up a solo homer to Burrell and the homer to Utley that made it 10-6.


Conine has 12 career home runs against the Phillies. … Both of Redmond’s home runs have been in Philadelphia. … Pavano improved to 6-1 on the road. … Utley has two pinch-hit homers this year. Utley’s homer came in his first at-bat of the season against the Marlins. … Marlins CF Pierre was credited with a diving catch in the eighth, though a replay showed the ball hit the ground first. … The Phillies have 28 sellouts in 50 games. … Phillies SS Jimmy Rollins was 4-for-5.

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