10/08/2003 11:30 PM ET
Marlins head home with series split
Penny makes uncharacteristic early exit in 12-3 loss
By Joe Frisaro / MLB.com
Game 2 wrapup: Cubs 12, Marlins 3
CHICAGO -- Getting a split at Wrigley Field was the Marlins' objective heading into the League Championship Series.
Watching starter Brad Penny get roughed up early wasn't.
Sammy Sosa's monstrous 495-foot two-homer, and two homers by Alex Gonzalez, punctuated the Cubs' 12-3 win of the Marlins in Game 2 of the LCS.
The loss evens the best-of-seven series and snaps the Marlins' four-game winning streak in the postseason. Game 3 at Pro Player Stadium will take place Friday with more than 60,000 fans expected.
"We're happy coming out with a split against this very good ball club," Marlins manager Jack McKeon said. "We went to San Francisco [Division Series] and were happy to come out with a split and it worked out all right. It's pretty tough to go into the opposition's ballpark and win two in a row."
Reliable down the stretch with a 3-0 record in September, Penny lasted only two innings, giving up seven runs on seven hits and two homers. His outing tied the shortest stint by a Marlin starter in the postseason. In Game 4 of the 1997 World Series, Tony Saunders also lasted two innings in a 10-3 loss to the Indians.
"Nothing was going my way," Penny said. "I wasn't making pitches. It wasn't a good combination."
More is expected of Penny if the Marlins hope to advance to the World Series. In a Game 2 start in the Division Series at San Francisco, the right-hander gave up four runs in four innings. The Marlins did rally to win, 9-5.
The Marlins starters had a difficult two games in Chicago. Josh Beckett, Tuesday's starter, allowed six runs in 6 1/3 innings.
A 14-game winner, Penny had only gone less than four innings in a start once. That was on Sept. 12 when he removed himself after two-thirds of an inning because of stiffness in his right elbow against the Braves.
Never able to establish his breaking ball, Penny said his pitches began sailing and he commonly fell behind in counts.
"I was 2-1, 3-1 on everyone," Penny said.
Sosa's smash set the tone and stirred a lingering buzz among the 39,562 Wrigley Field faithful.
"The count was 1-1 and I threw him a fastball," Penny said. "I just threw a fastball down the middle, and he hit it out of the park."
As much as Penny struggled, McKeon says he is committed to the right-hander if he should have to pitch again in Game 6 at Wrigley Field. Fifth starter, Carl Pavano, is being used in a relief role and is available should any changes be made to the rotation.
"I'm not going to bury a guy because he had a bad couple of games," McKeon said. "He was getting behind hitters. In this park, you can't do it. He is trying to see how hard he can throw. He went away from his game plan. The guy has good stuff. He just had bad location today."
Sosa wasn't the only Cub to flash power. Gonzalez swatted two home runs off Rick Helling and Aramis Ramirez also went deep off Penny.
The Marlins didn't manage much off Cubs right-hander Mark Prior, who gave up three runs -- two earned -- on eight hits with five strikeouts in seven innings.
The offensive highlights for Florida were back-to-back homers by Derrek Lee and Miguel Cabrera to open the sixth. Jeff Conine had a double and three hits.
"I don't think he had his best stuff tonight," Lee said of Prior. "But when you get a big lead like that, you start throwing strikes and try not to walk anybody."
After not cashing in on some scoring chances early, McKeon made an interesting substitution. Cabrera was shifted from third base to shortstop and All-Star Mike Lowell played third from the sixth inning on.
McKeon says don't read into anything. Gonzalez will start at shortstop in Game 3, and the lineup will be the same.
"You could almost see the writing on the wall in this game," McKeon said. "With our club, you need the defense. When you are behind, you can pinch-hit and get him out of there."
Signed as a shortstop at age 16, the 20-year-old Cabrera had never played the position in the Major Leagues. But with Florida's Alex Gonzalez going 1-for-23 in the postseason and the game out of hand, McKeon made the change.
After losing 9-8 in an 11th-inning marathon in Game 1, the Cubs pounced quickly, scoring three runs in the first inning. Randall Simon had a two-run single. Chicago added three more off Penny in the second, two coming on Sosa's moonshot to center. The ball would have landed on Waveland Ave. had it not clipped the back of a TV stand over the bleachers.
On contact, Marlins center fielder Juan Pierre took a step back but then stood and watched Sosa's remarkable blast.
"That was pretty much one he could hop on right off the bat," Pierre said. "You don't see too many that go out in that part of the park. You don't see too many that high and that far. He hit that pretty far. He's a strong man."
Simon had three hits, including a double, and Kenny Lofton had four singles.
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.