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Phillies 5, Marlins 2, 1st game

September 18, 1997 GMT

MIAMI (AP) _ Tony Saunders finally showed he can beat someone besides the Atlanta Braves.

Until Wednesday, the rookie left-hander was 3-0 against Atlanta and 0-6 against the rest of the National League. Now he’s 1-0 against the Philadelphia Phillies.

Saunders allowed four hits and one run in six innings to help the Florida Marlins beat Philadelphia 5-2 and salvage a split of their doubleheader. He earned his first victory in eight starts since July 31.

``I went out there today and just trusted myself,″ the left-hander said. ``My stuff has been there. The problem has been all mental.″

Rookie Garrett Stephenson and closer Ricky Bottalico combined on a six-hitter in the opener, which Philadelphia won 5-2.

The Marlins reduced the magic number for clinching their first playoff berth to seven. Florida was six games ahead of San Francisco in the wild-card race, pending the Giants’ late game against Los Angeles. The Marlins are six games behind Atlanta in the NL East.

The doubleheader was the Phillies’ third since Friday, and they split all three.

``We do what the schedule tells us,″ Phillies manager Terry Francona said. ``It’s been a long day, and a long week.″

Only about 2,000 fans were in the stands when the first game began, but the crowd grew to 26,305.

Just three players started both games: Scott Rolen and Tony Barron for Philadelphia, and Cliff Floyd for Florida. Floyd hit a two-run homer in the opener, his sixth, and Barron hit a solo homer in the nightcap, his fourth.

In the nightcap, Alex Arias’ two-out RBI single in the fourth gave Florida a 1-0 lead against Mark Leiter (10-16). Kurt Abbott tripled home two runs in the fifth, then scored on Floyd’s sacrifice fly to make it 4-1.

Florida’s John Cangelosi added a run-scoring single in the sixth. Pinch-hitter Ruben Amaro doubled home a run for Philadelphia in the seventh.

Robb Nen pitched a scoreless ninth for his 34th save in 41 chances.

``That’s a big win for us,″ Abbott said. ``Losing both games would have been tough to swallow.″

Leiter, who leads the majors in losses, allowed eight hits and five runs in 5 1-3 innings.

In the opener, Stephenson (7-6) allowed two runs in eight innings for his first victory since Aug. 6. Florida first baseman Darren Daulton, playing against his former club for the first time, committed a first-inning error that led to two unearned runs.

With the Marlins trailing 3-2 in the eighth, Daulton’s bid for a two-run homer fell a few feet shy in right field, with Barron making a leaping catch to end the inning.

``I was happy to see Dutch,″ Francona said of Daulton. ``But I didn’t want him to beat us. Another foot, and he would have.″

Daulton spent 13 years with the Phillies before they traded him to Florida on July 21.

Stephenson, who spent two weeks on the disabled list at the end of August, earned his first victory in four starts.

``I was just trying to go after every hitter and throw my pitches for strikes,″ the rookie said. ``If I think anything else, I might not last eight innings.″

Philadelphia’s Midre Cummings went 4-for-5 with two singles, a triple and an RBI double that broke a 2-2 tie in the second inning. Mickey Morandini had a two-out, two-run single in the ninth against Dennis Cook.

Bottalico struck out three in the ninth for his 31st save in 38 chances.

Livan Hernandez (9-2) lost his second consecutive decision despite allowing only one earned run over seven innings.

Daulton failed to snare Rico Brogna’s sharp grounder in the first inning for a two-base error. One run scored on the play, and Mike Lieberthal’s sacrifice fly two batters later gave Philadelphia a 2-0 lead.

Notes: Marlins slugger Gary Sheffield was a late scratch from the lineup for the first game because of a sore back. The injury first bothered him in spring training, and he aggravated it on the Marlins’ last road trip. ... The doubleheader was necessary to make up one of the Marlins’ two rainouts at home this season. They’ve had 16 rain delays at home this season with 11 lasting longer than an hour. ... Florida catcher Charles Johnson closed within one game of a major league record at his position: 117 consecutive errorless games in a season. The mark was set by Buddy Rosar of the Philadelphia A’s in 1946. ... The Phillies have improved in the second half of the season, but they still rank last in the National League in home runs and slugging percentage, and next-to-last in batting, stolen bases and runs. ... Saunders improved to 2-for-34 (.059) when he singled in the third inning.