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Jack Makes speech


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MILWAUKEE - When it comes to inspirational speeches, Jack McKeon isn't going to make anyone forget Jesse Jackson or Martin Luther King Jr. But the Marlins manager might be on to something.


A week after taking over as Marlins manager last summer, McKeon closed the doors to the visitor's clubhouse at Dodger Stadium and berated his new team. The Marlins responded by going from seven games under .500 to a World Series title.


Saturday, he closed the doors to the visitor's clubhouse at Miller Park and challenged his team again. Then, the Marlins went out and routed the Milwaukee Brewers 11-1 in Florida's most one-sided game of the year to give its flickering playoff hopes a boost.


'It was basically [a call to] look in the mirror and slap yourself and ask `what can I do to help the team?' '' infielder Mike Mordecai said of the 10-minute meeting.


``It was basically to remind us we have to do the little things to win. We're still in this thing. We have time, but the time keeps dwindling down.''


The Marlins made good use of their time Saturday with Jeff Conine collecting three hits, including his second grand slam of the week, Paul Lo Duca and Alex Gonzalez getting two hits each and Luis Castillo scoring three times.


That made a winner of Dontrelle Willis (9-8), who survived a line drive off his pitching hand to throw six brilliant innings, shutting out the Brewers on five hits before tiring in the seventh and giving up a run on a Chris Magruder single and Wes Helms' double.


''You never know what will happen,'' McKeon said. ``We were in the same boat last year.''


But the boat the Marlins were in last year was a lot further up the river at this point in the season. Although Florida was 13 games back of division-leading Atlanta after 115 games last summer, the Marlins were tied with Philadelphia for the lead in the wild-card race. With 47 games left this season, the Marlins are four games closer to the Braves but four teams and 5 ? games further back for the wild card.


That's far too close to surrender.


''[We have to] to keep the focus and realize what's left and what we're going to do,'' McKeon said. ``Just go out and win. That's what we've got to do now. We've got to go out and make our breaks.''


McKeon had barely finished talking before the Marlins were putting the manager's advice in practice, taking a 2-0 first-inning lead on back-to-back wild pitches and a sacrifice fly off Brewer left-hander Jorge de la Rosa.


De la Rosa, who was making his big-league debut, settled down after that, retiring 10 straight batters before the Marlins cashed in another break in the fifth.


Alex Gonzalez led off the inning and appeared to have struck out, but while the Brewers were throwing the ball around the infield, umpire Bruce Froemming stepped out from behind the plate and ruled that Gonzalez had fouled off the last pitch.


Given new life, Gonzalez lined the next delivery up the middle to spark a two-run rally.


''We were due a few breaks,'' McKeon said. ``Everybody's counting us out again. We want to show everybody again that they made a mistake. Now, let's put two or three or four or five or six together.''


The Marlins put seven together in the ninth when, started by rookie Chris Aguila's first extra-base hit, they batted around, scoring seven times.


Conine's two-out homer to left, his third grand slam of the season and his club-record sixth as a Marlin, closed out the scoring.


''We're behind. We have to put together a good run, get close and then fight it out in the last month,'' Conine said of the playoff race. ``It's definitely not over.''




Also Lo Duca is a beast


Lo Duca wasn't expected to play Saturday after sustaining a hairline fracture to his left ring finger Friday, but about 2 ? hours before game time, he was able to convince manager Jack McKeon he was OK.

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Good to know that everyone is still optimistic, as they should be.


But I just hope they can make this work, the 11-1 win was nice but it's nothing if they just lose again the next day...we really gotta get that string together and start catching up before it's too late.

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The little things the Marlins did well last year but dont seem to be doing it this year. I am glad to hear Jack FINALLY address that issue. The Marlins have got to get early leads by getting guys on base and advancing them. They have to be aggressive and attack from the 1st inning on. Once they put up some early runs, let the pitching take over as it can. That is how we win games.

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