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Willis overcomes himself for No.17

Marlins starter Dontrelle Willis earns his 17th win, tied for the majors' high, despite laboring for five innings against the Dodgers in a 5-2 victory.

Associated Press
Published August 23, 2005


MIAMI - Dontrelle Willis struggled with his control, sweltered in the 92 degree sunshine, lasted only five innings and still won.

Willis gave up two runs but stranded four runners in scoring position and drove in the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly, helping the Marlins beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-2 Monday.

Four shutout innings by the bullpen helped Willis (17-8) earn a share of the major-league lead in victories with St. Louis' Chris Carpenter (17-4).

"This is the flip side of me throwing eight innings and losing 1-0 (two starts ago)," Willis said. "That's how baseball is."

Willis allowed five hits and a season-high five walks, then departed with a 3-2 lead after throwing 105 pitches.

"It's a good omen that he can pick up a win when he doesn't have his really good stuff," manager Jack McKeon said. "He'll get his 20. You can put money on that."

Asked about the prospect of 20 wins, Willis said, "I never fathomed it. I never fathomed winning 15 games."

With one more victory, he'll tie the team record of 18 set by Carl Pavano last season.

Florida relievers allowed one baserunner to complete a six-hitter. Antonio Alfonseca followed Willis with a perfect sixth inning, Guillermo Mota struck out five in two perfect innings and Todd Jones pitched the ninth for his 28th save in 30 chances, including 18 straight.

"Our bullpen is the best in the league," said Mota, overlooking the relievers' 4.33 ERA. But the Marlins' pitching has been sensational lately, allowing a total of five runs in their past seven victories.

The Marlins went 9-4 on a two-week homestand, all against the West, and won their fourth series in a row, taking three of four from Los Angeles. They've won five of the past six and began the week trailing wild-card leader Philadelphia by one.

"The way we're going now, anything can happen," McKeon said.

ASTROS 6, PADRES 2: Roy Oswalt pitched six strong innings for his 15th win and Lance Berkman hit a two-run homer as visiting Houston took the wild-card lead.

Oswalt and three relievers combined on a five-hitter for the Astros, who moved a half-game in front of Philadelphia and Florida.

San Diego fell to 61-63 but continued to lead the West by four games over Arizona. This is the latest a team has led a division with a losing record.

METS 4, D'BACKS 1: Tom Glavine pitched into the ninth, Jose Reyes and Victor Diaz homered and Cliff Floyd drove in two for New York in the opener of a seven-game road trip.

Glavine matched his season high for innings but lost a chance at his first complete game since May 23, 2004, and 54th of his career when he gave up Royce Clayton's leadoff single in the ninth. Braden Looper replaced him and finished for his 25th save in 30 chances.

BRAVES 4, CUBS 2: Tim Hudson pitched his first complete game of the season and Chipper Jones hit two two-run homers, the second in the ninth off reliever Kerry Wood, to lead visiting Atlanta. It was Jones' first multihomer game since Aug.25 against Colorado and the 31st of his career.

GIANTS 5, PHILLIES 0: Noah Lowry pitched into the ninth to win his fourth straight start and become a 10-game winner in his first full big-league season, and Moises Alou hit a three-run homer to lead host San Francisco.

CARDINALS 3, PIRATES 1: Mark Mulder beat Pittsburgh for the fifth time in as many career starts, allowing three hits in eight innings to open St. Louis' 13-game road trip.

American League

YANKEES 7, BLUE JAYS 0: Jaret Wright won his second straight game since coming back from a shoulder injury, pitching seven sharp innings to help New York tie for the wild-card lead.

Hideki Matsui drove in three and Alex Rodriguez reached 100 RBIs with an eighth-inning double. The Yankees, who broke open a close game with a four-run seventh, moved within 31/2 games of idle Boston, the East leader, and tied Oakland in the wild-card race.

Pitching at Yankee Stadium for the first time since coming out of an April 23 game with shoulder pain, Wright allowed four hits and three early walks and struck out five. In two starts since he was activated, he has allowed two runs in 131/3 innings.