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Marlins end season with win over Phillies

Oct 1, 2006 - 8:54 PM MIAMI (Ticker) -- It was a fitting end of the season for both the Florida Marlins and the Philadelphia Phillies.

Journeyman Jason Wood's infield smash was mishandled by shortstop Danny Sandoval in the bottom of the 11th inning, giving the Marlins a 3-2 victory over the Phillies.

Using a rookie-laden roster guided by first-year manager Joe Girardi, the Marlins (78-84) surprisingly contended for a postseason berth before fading down the stretch.

They began the season by losing 31 of their first 42 games but became the first team since 1899 to climb back to the break-even mark after falling 20 games under .500.

"I don't think a team can say they had a sub-.500 season that was as successful as us," said Marlins pitcher Dontrelle Willis, who was forced from the game after just 19 pitches with a left triceps strain.

"It's kind of an oxymoron, but to me this is the funnest season I've had in baseball at any level," Willis added. "Not to discredit being able to win the World Series, but it's a different situation."

Powered by young slugger Ryan Howard, who led the major leagues with 58 home runs in his first full season, the Phillies (85-77) also contended for a playoff berth and were still in contention in the season's final week.

"The individual accomplishments will definitely hit me sometime, when I get a chance to sit back and think about it," Howard said. "It was a good run, in the sense a lot of people counted us out, we were able to open eyes with the talent in this room, the talent that came up and helped out. It looks good for this organization."

However, a pair of excruciating losses to Washington sealed their fate. The Phillies have not reached the postseason since 1993.

"When you get into a situation like that, you've got to play almost perfect baseball," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "The last six games we went ... 3-3, and that wasn't good enough. We put ourselves in position the last 10 days where we could not afford a loss."

The Marlins won it against Fabio Castro (0-1), Philadelphia's fourth pitcher. Chris Aguila singled, Alfredo Amezaga was hit by a pitch and Matt Treanor walked to load the bases.

Pinch hitter Paul Hoover chopped one to Sandoval, who threw home for the force play. But Wood hit a smash that Sandoval could not handle, allowing Amezaga to score the winning run.

"It has been a long time coming, and for something like that to happen is really thrilling," said the 36-year-old Wood, who hadn't been in the majors since a 1999 stint with Detroit. "I looked up and there was a swarm of Marlins coming at me. It was the greatest feeling I've had in baseball. I've been in this game a long time and that was really a lot of fun."

Matt Herges (2-0), Florida's sixth pitcher, worked two scoreless innings for the win. X-rays on Willis were negative.

"Skip (Girardi) didn't want to risk it, which is understandable," Willis said. "I was upset, but you have to understand the bigger picture."

Phillies starter Brett Myers gave up two runs, four hits and a walk in six innings, striking out seven.

Treanor's RBI single in the second gave Florida the lead. Philadelphia tied it in the fourth on a run-scoring hit by Sandoval.

Dan Uggla hit his 27th homer in sixth, breaking a Marlins rookie record for homers shared by himself, Josh Willingham (2006) and Preston Wilson (1999).

Howard singled in a run in the seventh, his major league-best 149th RBI.

Girardi will meet Tuesday with Marlins general manager Larry Beinfest. It is widely expected that the team will buy out his final two years despite the unprecedented accomplishments under his watch.

"I signed on for three years," said Girardi, who wants to come back. "It's a special group of kids. They accomplished a lot and it was fun to watch and fun to be a part of it. We weren't that far from playing in October."

Neither were the Phillies.

"I'd say it's been a roller coaster because our team has completely changed from what we started out (with)," Manuel said. "I've said the last two years that I came here to win. I think we're definitely headed in the right direction and I think the more pieces that we can connect to what we've got we can be what I call a consistent winner."






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