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Marlins Rally Against Gagne to Defeat Dodgers

Lo Duca is in middle of four-run ninth-inning outburst by Florida as L.A. loses, 6-4.



By Bill Shaikin, Times Staff Writer



The "Game Over" crowd rushed to its feet, stomping and cheering as Eric Gagne made his way to the mound. The music blared and the decibel level soared, accompanying the grandest entrance in Southern California.


Alas, the music stopped and the show went horribly awry. The Florida Marlins routed the Cy Young closer for four runs in the ninth inning, stunning Gagne and handing the Dodgers a 6-4 defeat in front of 46,241 at Dodger Stadium.





"He's not going to be Superman all the time," outfielder Milton Bradley said. "He's going to have his Clark Kent days."


Guillermo Mota and Paul Lo Duca, traded by the Dodgers to the Marlins 20 days ago, left their mark on their old stomping grounds. Mota earned the victory, pitching one shutout inning. Lo Duca drew a two-out, full-count walk from Gagne, loading the bases, then scored on a double by Lenny Harris.


For the first time in 152 games, the Dodgers had lost a game they led after eight innings. For the second time in 100 chances, Gagne had blown a save.


As Lo Duca slid home, the Marlins ran out of their dugout. Lo Duca leaped toward the sky, then slapped palms with his new teammates. Gagne appeared to stare toward the visiting dugout, although whether out of disgust over the Marlin celebration or his own performance was uncertain since he declined to comment.


"He's probably not used to anybody scoring off him," Harris said. "It was probably a little wake-up call for him. He's the best. Everybody gets up for the best."


Said Lo Duca: "That's not rubbing it in. He knows that. I apologize to him if that's it. That's about beating one of the best guys ever to take the mound as a closer.


"If he strikes me out, he pumps his fist, and I respect that."


The Dodgers got eight terrific innings from Odalis Perez. They got home runs from Bradley, Steve Finley and Shawn Green.


And they entrusted a 4-2 lead to Gagne, although that lead could have been bigger. In the eighth, against Mota, they had runners on first and third with none out and did not score.


"That's a world champion. I guess we forgot about that," Bradley said. "If we get two more runs there, there's not an issue at the end. We could have taken them out of the game and stepped on their throats."


But the lead stayed at 4-2, with Gagne starting the ninth.


He struck out Luis Castillo to start the inning, but Miguel Cabrera doubled, took third on a single by Mike Lowell and scored on a single by Jeff Conine.


With the tying run at second base, Gagne got Juan Encarnacion to pop up. Then up came Lo Duca, as a pinch-hitter. He walked, jeered by the fans that cheered him Monday and Tuesday.


"It was very eerie," Lo Duca said. "For me to draw a walk off him is a triumph."


Harris, the Marlins' fourth pinch-hitter, delivered a double that cleared the bases and won the game. He extended his record for career pinch hits to 190.


Armando Benitez retired the Dodgers in order in the bottom of the ninth for his 36th save, one more than Gagne and one shy of the league leader, Cincinnati's Danny Graves.


The Dodgers' National League West lead over the San Francisco Giants was cut to five games.


Perez lowered his earned-run average to 2.75, third in the league. He offered consolation to Gagne.


"He's not perfect," Perez said. "He's human."

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I would expect nothing less from Milton Bradley :lol


"That's a world champion. I guess we forgot about that," Bradley said. "If we get two more runs there, there's not an issue at the end. We could have taken them out of the game and stepped on their throats."

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