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Marlins Shutout streak reaches 30 innings


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SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) -- Carl Pavano was determined to keep the shutout streak going for the Florida Marlins.


Pavano and a pair of relievers combined to blank the Montreal Expos 3-0 Thursday, extending the Marlins' scoreless string to a team-record 30 innings.


"I wasn't going to be the one to go out there and mess up our rhythm," Pavano said.


The World Series champions shut out the Expos in all three games of the series. Montreal was held to three hits as its scoreless string reached a club-record 33 innings.


The last time a team swept a three-game series with shutouts was 1995, when Baltimore did it against Detroit.


Pavano (1-0) recalled riding on the team bus after Wednesday's 9-0 win and getting razzed by Brad Penny, who threw eight scoreless innings in the opening game of the series in Puerto Rico.


"Penny told me yesterday, 'No pressure, 23 scoreless innings," kidded Pavano.


Pavano added that the way the Marlins' pitchers have been hitting -- Dontrelle Willis was 3-for-3 with a homer on Wednesday -- there's more pressure for them to get hits.


Pavano, who was 1-for-2 at the plate, conceded that the shutout streak will not last forever.


"So as long as it does last, let's enjoy it," he said.


Pavano gave up three hits in seven innings, and Chad Fox and Armando Benitez finished up. The previous shutout record for the Marlins was 27 innings, compiled in four games between July 29-Aug. 1, 1997.


Darren Oliver, who gets the next start Friday in Atlanta, said he does not want to be the guy to allow a run.


"I hope I can keep it going. We're just hot right now," Oliver said.


Manager Jack McKeon said his pitching staff is making a good case to be considered among the best in baseball.


"This staff is underrated," McKeon said. "As far as maturing and reaching a new level, these guys are fast becoming one of the better staffs in baseball."


Montreal, the worst offensive team in the majors, has been blanked four times overall this season by the Marlins. Florida shut out the Expos in the final game of their recent series at Pro Player Stadium.


Florida is 5-1 at San Juan's Hiram Bithorn Stadium since last year. The Expos finished 1-5 in their first "home" series this season in Puerto Rico.


"The effort we gave today will not win ballgames," manager Frank Robinson said.


Pavano retired the first 10 batters before Jamey Carroll hit a one-out triple in the fourth. Jose Vidro walked, and advanced to second on Orlando Cabrera's groundout. Brad Wilkerson flied out to end the inning.


Fox struck out the side in the eighth and Benitez pitched the ninth for his sixth save of the season.


The Marlins scored three in the fourth off Zach Day (0-1). Luis Castillo led off with a walk, Miguel Cabrera singled and Mike Lowell had a sacrifice fly.


One out later, Hee Seop Choi homered for the second consecutive game. The two-run shot was Choi's fifth homer of the season.


"He's not hitting much, but he's driving in big runs," said McKeon.


Day pitched seven innings and allowed three runs and four hits.


Montreal had another chance to score in the sixth. Peter Bergeron and Carroll hit back-to-back singles, putting runners on second and third with one out. Vidro then hit a weak grounder to the pitcher, and Cabrera followed with a groundout to end the threat.


Game notes

The previous longest scoreless streak in Montreal's history was 32 innings, from Sept. 24-30, 1972. ... Atlanta was the last team to pitch three consecutive shutouts -- Sept. 4-7, 2002, against Pittsburgh (1) and Montreal (2). ... Miguel Cabrera saw his four-game homer streak end. He singled twice. In the three-game series, he was 7-for-12, with three home runs and four RBI. ... The attendance was 8,494, well below the 20,000 capacity.


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This pitching staff may turn out to be one of the best ever for a year. Hopefully, if they turn out to become one of the best ever pitching staffs to play this year, they can continue in the same way the Braves did!

Hopefully if that happens, Loria can find a way to sign all of them to multi-year contracts. :thumbup


(Assuming AJ replaces Oliver in the rotation)

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