Harris#039; pep talk sparks Marlins win over Gaints

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 2, 2003

SAN FRANCISCO - Juan Pierre got a pep talk from veteran Lenny Harris, then came out swinging. Florida's star leadoff hitter made a big statement in the process.

Juan Encarnacion homered and Pierre wound up with a bases-loaded double on a misplay by Jose Cruz Jr. in a decisive three-run sixth as Florida rallied to beat sloppy San Francisco 9-5 Wednesday, evening the NL division series at one game each.

After Jason Schmidt shut down the Marlins on Tuesday, the 38-year-old Harris let Pierre know he was pressing and needed to settle down and find a groove.

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Pierre did just that.

''He gives me a pep talk every day,'' said Pierre, who had four hits in Game 2 after going 0-for-4 in the opener. ''It felt good to get that first hit.''

Pierre said before the series started that the Giants hadn't yet seen the Marlins at their best. San Francisco won five of six meetings during the regular season.

Pierre led a 15-hit effort, a day after Florida was held to just three. The Marlins overcame a three-run deficit in the fifth.

''A lot of people doubted this team and thought we couldn't win,'' said Harris, who had a pinch-hit single in the sixth. ''We showed them a little something - that we're not afraid of them.''

The Marlins got the split they so desperately needed at Pacific Bell Park, and did it by getting away from the small ball that sent them on this improbable playoff journey.

After an energized Barry Bonds helped the Giants take an early lead, Sidney Ponson couldn't hold it.

Game 3 is Friday in Miami. Kirk Rueter pitches for San Francisco against Mark Redman.

Carl Pavano, the winning pitcher when Florida clinched the wild card, earned another important victory by getting two outs.

''It was just a weird day,'' Giants first baseman J.T. Snow said. ''They are a good team. There's a reason they are here. When you get to this point in the year, there's no quit in anybody.''

Most of all, Florida kept Bonds from doing major damage. Rookie Dontrelle Willis, the Marlins' probable Game 4 starter, did his part by relieving in the eighth and retiring Bonds on a foul pop.

On a day the 39-year-old Bonds showed unusual energy in left field and on the bases, the Marlins again made sure the slugger wouldn't beat them at the plate. After Bonds doubled to drive in a run in the first, he was walked twice.

Bonds made a sliding catch in left field and hustled home from first base on Edgardo Alfonzo's double, nearly catching teammate Rich Aurilia, who had gone back to second to tag up in case the ball was caught.

But Bonds was about the only one who looked like himself.

''They played better. They won. That's the end of it. Go away,'' Bonds said.

On Pierre's fly ball in the sixth, Cruz slipped where the grass meets the warning track and the ball flew over him.

Cruz said it was the worst day he'd experienced in this tricky right field.

''I stepped on a mud patch and slipped there,'' he said. ''It was a difficult wind, the shadows, the fog. I don't think we've played in those conditions before.''

Cruz has been one of the team's most reliable defensive players for a team that led the NL West from day one on the way to winning 100 games under first-year manager Felipe Alou.

Snow also let a ball roll through his legs, setting up a run for the Marlins, and center fielder Marquis Grissom let a line drive bounce off his glove.

Losing pitcher Joe Nathan, a 12-game winner as a reliever this year, was tagged for three runs on four hits in the Giants' shaky sixth, with Encarnacion's shot tying it at 5. Jeff Conine, Alex Gonzalez and Harris all singled and Jason Christiansen relieved.

Christiansen immediately gave up the crazy double to Pierre.

Conine's groundout in the seventh made it 8-5. Pierre scored an unearned run in the eighth on the error by Grissom.

The Giants took a 5-4 lead in the fifth after pinch-hitter Pedro Feliz tripled and scored on Snow's single. Then, the Marlins began their comeback.

The man who bats behind Bonds - Alfonzo - has become a big focus in this series. Alfonzo is 4-for-8 in two games and hit a two-run double in the fourth.

During batting practice Wednesday, Bonds asked first-base coach Luis Pujols to throw him some pitches out of the strike zone. He then hit a low-and-inside pitch down the right-field line and into the corner for an RBI double in the first.

Bonds made impressive diving, sliding grab on a line drive by Alex Gonzalez in the second.

The Marlins didn't get near the outing from Brad Penny that Josh Beckett gave them in Tuesday's 2-0 loss, but it didn't matter.