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Mordecai hits first HR in almost two years

ATLANTA (AP) -- Mike Mordecai is about the last guy anyone would
expect to hit a game-winning homer.

The weak-hitting Florida infielder homered for the first time in
nearly two years, a 12th-inning drive that gave the Marlins a 5-4
victory over the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday night.

The Marlins bounced back after closer Braden Looper squandered a
three-run lead in the ninth.

"I probably don't have as much sock as I used to," quipped
Mordecai, a former Braves player who has never hit more than five
homers in a season. "I run them all out."

Mordecai, batting just .192, entered as a pinch-runner in the
10th and came through at the plate two innings later. He hit a 3-1
fastball off Trey Hodges (3-1) that barely cleared the left-field

"If it had been anywhere else, I was taking the pitch,"
Mordecai said. "I got it right where I was looking."

It was Mordecai's first homer since Aug. 8, 2001, when he played
for Montreal. Hodges was certainly aware of that number when he
fell behind in the count.

"I was trying to get it over the plate and take my chances with
him," Hodges said. "Obviously, the likelihood of the guys hitting
behind him (hitting a homer) was a little higher. But he's a major
league hitter. He did with it what he should have done."

Mark Redman allowed four hits in 7 2-3 innings, another strong
start by a Florida starter, but Looper couldn't hold a 4-1 lead in
the ninth.

Andruw Jones walked on four straight pitches, Javy Lopez singled
and both came around to score on a horrible defensive play by Juan

When Julio Franco lofted a soft liner to right, Encarnacion
attempted to make a diving catch instead of playing it safe. The
ball skipped under his glove and all the way to the wall for a
two-run triple.

"I didn't care if he dove or not," Franco said, "as long as
he didn't catch it."

Pinch-hitter Robert Fick tied the game at 4 by lining a one-out
single past the drawn-in infield.

"This team is going to battle to the end," Franco said. "We
had an opportunity to win. We didn't, but we did what we're
supposed to. They beat us playing. It's not like we gave up."

Redman and the rest of the Florida starters are on a roll,
allowing no more than one run in five of their last six
appearances. The lone exception was rookie sensation Dontrelle
Willis against the Chicago Cubs after a rain delay last weekend.

Nate Bump (3-0) pitched two scoreless innings for the win.

Despite the loss, the Braves maintained the best record in the
major leagues (66-34). The Marlins have gotten themselves into the
thick of the NL wild-card race with a 34-19 mark since May 23, tied
with Atlanta for the best record in the majors during that span.

Mike Hampton retired the first nine Florida hitters, but the
Marlins started the fourth with four straight hits. Ivan Rodriguez
had an RBI single and Encarnacion made it 2-0 by grounding into a
forceout with the bases loaded.

After a walk reloaded the bases, Hampton escaped further trouble
by getting Miguel Cabrera to hit into a double play.

Alex Gonzalez made it 3-0 with an RBI double in the seventh. He
moved to third on a sacrifice by Redman, but wound up getting
tagged out by Hampton after attempting to score on a pitch to the
backstop. The ball ricocheted back to Lopez, who wheeled and threw
to the pitcher covering home.

Still, the Marlins knocked out Hampton in the eighth with three
straight hits, including a run-scoring single by Mike Lowell. The
Braves starter gave up 11 hits.

The Braves finally broke through in the bottom half, taking
advantage of Redman's wildness. He retired the first two hitters,
then walked Rafael Furcal and Marcus Giles before Gary Sheffield
lined a single to right to end the shutout.

Ugueth Urbina came on to face Chipper Jones, who sent a liner up
the middle. The reliever managed to knock it down and easily throw
out Jones at first.

Redman barely escaped a similar predicament in the fifth. With
two outs, he walked Lopez and Franco before giving up a long drive
by Vinny Castilla. Juan Pierre made a catch leaping against the
center-field wall to end the inning.

Game notes
Hampton got no decision after winning his last three
starts. ... Redman has given up just one run in his last two
starts, covering 14 2-3 innings. ... Looper blew his fourth save in
21 chances. ... Florida's Luis Castillo followed up a four-hit game
in Montreal with three hits against the Braves. .. A star-studded
night at Turner Field: country singer Trisha Yearwood sang the
national anthem, actor Kevin Costner stopped by the broadcast booth
and NASCAR racer Robby Gordon threw out the first pitch.