Another Nail In The Coffin As Rally Comes Up Short

On Tuesday, Plan A was to sweep the Marlins. Tuesday, it went to Plan B, win two out of three against the Marlins. Now, it's Plan C, save some pride and don't let the Marlins clinch in front of our very eyes. The Marlins jumped out to a six run lead and then held on for dear life as the Phillies rallied back, but came up short in a 6-5 loss.

Josh Beckett pitched seven superb innings and Jeff Conine continued his demolition of Philadelphia pitching as the Florida Marlins tightened their hold on the National League wild card with a 6-5 win.

With the win, the Marlins took a three-game lead over the Phillies with four contests to play, including the series finale on Thursday. Florida also holds a three-game advantage over Houston, which wraps up the regular season with four games against Milwaukee.

The Marlins seemed on the verge of burying the Phillies, grabbing a 6-0 lead with a four run sixth inning. Behind the impressive pitching of Beckett, who limited Philadelphia to two hits over seven innings, it seemed as if Florida was on its way. However, the Phillies would not go down without a fight. In the eighth, they loaded the bases on consecutive singles before Placido Polanco doubled to plate two runs. Michael Tejera replaced Beckett and allowed a two-run single by Bobby Abreu and walked Thome, forcing Marlins manager Jack McKeon to go to Chad Fox. Fox uncorked a wild pitch that advanced the runners before Mike Lieberthal lifted a sacrifice fly to draw Philadelphia within a run. Pat Burrell flied to shallow center and after Jimmy Rollins walked, rookie Chase Utley struck out, ending the rally.

Beckett (9-8) allowed four runs and six hits in seven-plus innings. He walked three and struck out seven, retiring 17 of 18 batters before the eighth-inning meltdown.

Ugueth Urbina tossed a perfect ninth for his fifth save.

Brett Myers (14-9) was the victim of bad luck and worse defense, yielding five runs and seven hits in five innings.

The Phillies, who dropped four of six games to lowly Pittsburgh and Cincinnati over the past ten days, threatened early. Marlon Byrd led off the game with a walk and Polanco singled. But Beckett, who was the second overall pick in the 1999 draft, reared back and got Abreu to hit a squibber in front of the plate that resulted in a forceout, struck out Thome and got Lieberthal on a inning-ending grounder.

Myers, who was selected 10 picks after Beckett in 1999, retired the first five Marlins he faced before Juan Encarnacion deposited his first offering over the left field wall for a 1-0 Florida lead.

With one out in the third, Juan Pierre walked but was caught stealing by Lieberthal, keeping the speedy center fielder tied with teammate Luis Castillo for the club's single-season stolen base mark. Castillo drew a two-out walk and scored when Ivan Rodriguez's double to left could not be fielded cleanly by Burrell.

Rodriguez ignited the crucial four-run uprising in the sixth with a leadoff single. Derrek Lee followed with a triple to deep right-center and Miguel Cabrera's broken-bat single to shallow left gave the Marlins a 4-0 cushion.

Myers gave way to Carlos Silva, who retired Encarnacion on a flyout to deep left before Conine thrilled the crowd with a two-run blast into the left field stands.

The Phillies, who have lost six straight games at Pro Player Stadium, wasted walks to Abreu and Thome that started the seventh before staging their eighth-inning comeback, which began with singles by Utley, pinch hitter Ricky Ledee and Byrd.

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