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NLCS: Marlins starve for attention, which centers on Cubs

MARC TOPKIN
Published October 15, 2003

CHICAGO - The Chicago Cubs have been getting all the attention, almost as if they were now America's team.

Just like the Marlins like it.

"Without a doubt," Marlins centerfielder Juan Pierre said before Tuesday's game. "I was watching CNN today and they were talking about the Cubs, and before other things going on in the world.

"You feel like everybody is against you. And that's the way we look at it. I would say 97 percent of the world probably wants to see the Cubs, probably wants to see the Cubs and the Red Sox in it. It's one of those things where you can't get mad at people, because it's the history of the Cubs and things like that.

"But we look at it as a good situation to go shock the world, have them wait. I don't think it's a bigger stage right now than playing the Cubs right here and going against their top two (pitchers). To go out there and complete this feat will be great for the Florida Marlins, (but) it would make a lot of people mad."

Their dramatic comeback Tuesday was just another reason for them to believe.

"I think it's an example of what this club is made of," manager Jack McKeon said. "We were supposed to just fall over and play dead. I told you, these guys, they're tough. They're going to battle you all the way. We didn't come in to play one game, we came in to make it a seven-game series and, thank God, we're going to do that."

PITCHING IN: The only solace the Cubs found in their frustrating defeat was that tonight in Game 7 they will start Kerry Wood, the other half of their pair of aces.

The Cubs are 3-0 in postseason games started by Wood and are figuring the Marlins would have a tough time beating Mark Prior and Wood on back-to-back nights.

"Tonight there's nothing you can do," manager Dusty Baker said. "We have Kerry Wood going, and it's going to be tough to beat both those guys. And I still like our chances very much."

The Marlins are equally confident in their Game 7 starter, left-hander Mark Redman, who had a strong Game 3, allowing two runs on 62/3 innings. And they figure to have Josh Beckett, whose two-hitter in Game 4 turned around the series, available in the bullpen.

"We've already played two Games 7s," Mike Mordecai said. "Our back has already been to the wall, and we've answered the call."

BILLY GOAT'S BLUFF: As if the Billy Goat Tavern wasn't getting enough publicity, there was a live goat prancing around the downtown Chicago bar and grill Tuesday afternoon.

The legend is that original bar owner Bill Sianis put a curse on the Cubs when he wasn't allowed to bring his goat into Wrigley Field for the 1945 World Series.

RECORD WATCH: Florida's Ivan Rodriguez tied the NLCS record with nine RBIs; Matt Williams had nine in 1989. ... Kenny Lofton scored in the first for the seventh time in 11 Cubs postseason games. He tied the NLCS record by scoring his eighth run and also tied the record with his ninth single. ... The Cubs have outscored the Marlins 12-0 in the first inning. ... The eight runs by Florida in the eighth was one shy of the NLCS record, by St. Louis in 1985.

HISTORY LESSON: Three teams have come back from 3-1 deficits in the league championship series: the 1985 Royals, over Toronto; the 1986 Red Sox, over California; and the 1996 Braves, over St. Louis.

MISCELLANY: Gametime temperature was 57 degrees. ... Ryne Sandberg threw out the ceremonial first pitch and received a thunderous ovation. ... Lou Rawls sang the national anthem and Bernie Mac handled the seventh-inning stretch duties.

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