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25-year Marliniversary: 7-run ninth gives Marlins 2-1 World Series lead

A Marlins memory from this day in 1997.

World Series
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The 1997 World Series would end with a pair of pitchers’ duels, but the early parts of the Fall Classic had plenty of offense. The highest scoring contest from the series came on this day 25 years ago.

With the series tied 1-1, the scene shifted from South Florida to Cleveland on Oct. 21, 1997. Ultimately, a seven-run ninth inning was the difference as the Florida Marlins regained the series lead with a 14-11 win over the Cleveland Indians.

After losing with ace Kevin Brown on the mound in Game 2, Florida starter Al Leiter was far from his best in Game 3. Despite that, home runs from Gary Sheffield and Darren Daulton allowed the Marlins to take a 3-2 lead into the bottom of the fourth inning.

Following a bases-loaded walk to Omar Vizquel, Manny Ramirez delivered a two-run single to give the Indians a 5-3 lead. A two-run home run from Jim Thome in the fifth doubled the Cleveland lead and helped chase Leiter.

Up 7-3 after five innings, Cleveland starter Charles Nagy collected a pair of strikeouts in the sixth, but Jim Eisenreich’s two-run home run would give the Marlins life. Nagy was done after six innings and Florida feasted on the Cleveland bullpen.

Against Brian Anderson and Michael Jackson in the seventh, the Marlins drew even with an RBI single from Edgar Renteria and an RBI double from Sheffield. While the Cleveland bullpen struggled, lefties Felix Heredia and Dennis Cook combined to throw 3 1/3 scoreless innings of relief.

Despite three straight one-out singles, the Marlins left the bases loaded in the eighth. In the ninth, runs were aplenty.

After Bobby Bonilla walked to start the top of the ninth, an error by centerfielder Marquis Grissom on a single from Darren Daulton allowed Florida to go back in front, 8-7. The Marlins, however, were just getting started.

After striking out Moises Alou, Cleveland reliever Eric Plunk had Cliff Floyd picked off at first, but a throwing error from first baseman Jim Thome allowed Dalton to score. Following a single by Charles Johnson, the third Cleveland error of the inning – this one by second baseman Tony Fernandez – allowed Floyd to score.

A strikeout and a walk were followed by a two-run single by Sheffield. After a wild pitch moved two runners into scoring position, Bonilla – the inning’s lead-off man – added a two-run single of his own. Once down 7-3, the Marlins had scored 11 straight runs to lead by a touchdown, 14-7.

Usually reliable Robb Nen, however, did not make things easy in the bottom of the inning. Fernandez’s sacrifice fly cut the lead to 14-8. After an RBI single from Bip Roberts and a two-run double from Ramirez, the Indians had crawled to with three and were a baserunner away from bringing the tying run to the plate.

Nen settled in and got the job done, inducing a Vizquel groundout to end the contest. A contest that featured 25 runs, 26 hits, six errors and lasted more than four hours had finally ended. Sheffield finished with three of Florida’s 16 hits and five RBIs.

The teams would trade wins and losses during the 1997 World Series with the Marlins ultimately winning in seven games. Game 3 was the highest-scoring game of the series and the highest-scoring World Series game since 1993. It took place on this day a quarter-century ago.