Marlins eliminate Giants

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 4, 2003

MIAMI - Somehow, Ivan Rodriguez and the Florida Marlins held on.

The All-Star catcher withstood a hard collision to tag J.T. Snow for the final out and the Marlins beat Barry Bonds and the San Francisco Giants 7-6 Saturday, clinching their best-of-five division series 3-1.

In typically dramatic fashion, the wild-card Marlins moved into the NL championship series to face either the Chicago Cubs or Atlanta.

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Dontrelle Willis and the Marlins blew a 5-1 lead before rookie Miguel Cabrera helped them regain the lead in the eighth with an RBI single.

Rodriguez scored the go-ahead run, jarring the ball loose from catcher Yorvit Torrealba. And when the ball scooted away, another run scored.

But the defending NL champion Giants weren't done. They scored once against closer Ugueth Urbina and had runners at first and second with two out when Jeffrey Hammonds singled to left.

A charging Jeff Conine fielded the ball on one bounce and threw a one-hopper wide of the plate to Rodriguez.

Rodriguez quickly moved in front of the plate and applied the tag as Snow bowled him over, trying in vain to dislodge the ball. Rodriguez's mask and helmet went flying, but he held the ball.

Rodriguez got up and was tackled again by a jubilant Urbina as the Marlins began to celebrate, accompanied by the roar of 65,464 fans, a record for a division series game.

''It was a very tough play,'' Rodriguez said. ''You know, Conine is a good outfielder. He threw the ball right to me.

''In that situation I'm just going to grab that ball in my glove. I don't want to let that ball go out of my glove,'' he said.

As Rodriguez spoke, he was still clutching the ball.