MIAMI - With rainy weather, apathetic fans, unsettled ownership and losing records, the Florida Marlins have provided comic relief in recent seasons.
Look who's laughing now.
The surprising Marlins beat the New York Mets 4-3 on Friday night to clinch their first playoff berth since winning the 1997 World Series. They'll face the National League West champion San Francisco Giants in a best-of-5 series beginning Tuesday in San Francisco.
The Marlins trailed Philadelphia in the wild-card race last Saturday, but pulled away with five consecutive wins. At 90-70, they're 20 games above .500 for the first time since '97.
The victory put 72-year-old manager Jack McKeon in the postseason for the first time. Florida is 74-48 (.607) since he took over May 11.
Leadoff batter Juan Pierre, a catalyst all season, filled that role again in the clinching victory. He stole two bases to set a team record with 64, singled three times to reach a career high with 203 hits and played a part in Florida's first three runs.
Carl Pavano (12-13), the No. 5 starter on a strong pitching staff, limited New York to six hits and three runs in 7 1/3 innings.
TWINS 5, TIGERS 4 (11)
In Detroit, Michael Cuddyer hit the first pitch of the 11th inning into the left-field seats as Minnesota beat Detroit, putting the Tigers one defeat away from tying the modern-day record for losses.
If Detroit (41-119) loses today or Sunday against the Twins, the Tigers will tie the post-1900 record of 120 losses set by the 1962 New York Mets.
Lew Ford's double gave Minnesota a 4-3 lead in the 10th, but the suddenly scrappy Tigers, who had won three straight, tied it on Shane Halter's RBI single.
Eddie Guardado (3-5) blew a save in the 10th, but earned the win after Cuddyer's fourth homer off Franklyn German (2-4). LaTroy Hawkins pitched the 11th for his second save.
CUBS-PIRATES POSTPONED: Chicago had more to contend with than Pittsburgh in its quest for a playoff spot. Rain took over at Wrigley Field on Friday.
The weather washed out the game and forced the Cubs to play a doubleheader today as they chase their first division title since 1989.
It also sent thousands of fans home angry.
The Cubs and Houston Astros were tied in the NL Central heading into the final three games.
Disappointed fans booed loudly after learning that their tickets can't be used for today's doubleheader that begins at 1:25 p.m. EDT.
A handful of angry fans surrounded the door to the team's customer relations department, waving their arms and yelling. The game never started and was called off after a delay of 1 hour, 40 minutes.
"The sense I had is that they wanted to see a game," Cubs president Andy MacPhail said, adding that the fans could exchange Friday's ticket for a cash refund or for a ticket to a game next season.
"I'm sorry, I truly am," MacPhail said. "There is nothing I would have liked more than to play the game. ... At this point, we are just unable to accommodate them."
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