20-year Marliniversary: Marlins hold off Yankees to take 3-2 lead in World Series

On this day 20 years ago, the Florida Marlins held off the New York Yankees 6-4 to take a three games to two lead in the World Series.

During the 2003 postseason, the eventual World Series champion Florida Marlins were 5-2 on their home field. Their final home game that season was a victory that came on this day 20 years ago.

After winning Game 4 on a walk-off home run from Alex Gonzalez to even the series, the Marlins held off a rally in Game 5 to take the series lead. A nice play from Derrek Lee at first base ultimately thwarted the New York Yankees’ comeback efforts in a 6-4 victory for Florida.

Florida took a 6-2 lead to the top of the ninth at Pro Player Stadium on Oct. 23, 2003. The Marlins turned to the previous night’s winning pitcher, right-hander Braden Looper.

Looper was able to get Aaron Boone to pop out to begin the inning, but that was followed by a solo home run from Jason Giambi, a single by Derek Jeter and an RBI double from Enrique Wilson. With the lead down to two and the tying run at the plate, the Marlins turned to closer Ugueth Urbina, who blew the save in Game 4.

Urbina was able to get Bernie Williams to fly out for the second out of the frame. That brought up Hideki Matsui.

On the first pitch of the at-bat, Matsui smoked one toward first, but Lee was able to handle the hot shot that took an in-between hop. With a pump of the fist, the tall Florida first baseman touched the bag for the game’s final out.

The Yankees scored first on a sacrifice fly from Williams in the top of the first, but by the second, it was the home team who had the lead. In the bottom of the second, Alex Gonzalez drew the Marlins even with an RBI ground-rule double before starting pitcher Brad Penny had one of the biggest swings of the night with a two-run single.

The Marlins extended their lead to 4-1 on Juan Pierre’s RBI double in the fourth. In the fifth, Mike Lowell singled home two more to push the lead to 6-1. The Yankees finally added a run in the seventh on an RBI single from Jeter.

Jeter finished with three hits and two runs scored for New York. Penny allowed just two runs, one earned, in seven solid innings for Florida to pick up his second win of the series.

The Marlins would finish things out two days later with a 2-0 win in the Bronx. They played their final home game of a championship campaign on this day two decades ago.

Photo by Linda Cataffo/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images

Mike Ferguson is a contributor for Fish on First, who covers Miami Marlins history. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeWFerguson.

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