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20-year Marliniversary: Pudge’s late homer lifts Fish past Brewers, 4-2

A Marlins memory from this day in 2003.

Catcher Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez #7 of the Florida Marlins gets high-fives from his teammates after scoring a run against the Arizona Diamondbacks in the National League game at Pro Player Stadium on July 30, 2003 in Miami Florida. The Marlins won 3-1. Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/Getty Images

Legendary catcher Iván “Pudge” Rodríguez spent just one season with the Florida Marlins, but it was one to remember.

Throughout the postseason, Rodriguez came up big on more than one occasion. He also came up big throughout the regular season as well, including on this day 20 years ago. Rodriguez’s two-run home run in the eighth ultimately lifted the Marlins to a 4-2 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers.

The score was tied 2-2 as Florida came to bat in the bottom of the eighth at Pro Player Stadium on April 22, 2003. Milwaukee reliever Valerio De Los Santos had struck out the side in the seventh but opened the eighth by allowing an infield single to Juan Pierre. Pierre stole second before reaching third on a wild pitch with one out.

Rodriguez was 1-for-3 on the night as he stepped in to face De Los Santos. Needing just a flyball to drive in the go-ahead run, Rodriguez crushed the 1-1 pitch to center for his fourth home run as a Marin to give Florida a 4-2 lead.

The Brewers made things interesting in the ninth, putting two runners in scoring position against Florida closer Braden Looper. Looper, however, was able to get Eric Young to fly out to right field to end the contest.

Despite solid starts from Florida’s Brad Penny and Milwaukee’s Wayne Franklin, it was lefty reliever Armando Almanza who picked up the win. Rodriguez finished with two of the six hits for the Marlins and three of their four RBIs. Alex Sanchez finished 3-for-5 with a run scored for Milwaukee in the loss.

Florida would win in walk-off fashion the following day before ultimately completing the three-game sweep. The series started with a thrilling contest decided by a blast from Rodriguez on this day two decades ago.