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BoSox Sleep With The Fishes

Rookie Ryan Dempster found out just how special that first victory can be.

First, he went out and beat the Boston Red Sox, pitching the Florida Marlins to a 5-1 win Sunday.

Then he received congratulations afterward from general manager Dave Dombrowski for what he hopes is a start of things to come.

"That's the first of many," Dombrowski said after Dempster pitched seven strong innings for his first career win as Florida avoided a three-game sweep.

"I'm as happy as I can be," said Dempster, who was in Class A last year. "I almost want to cry. This is a dream come true."

Boston's Nomar Garciaparra went 1-for-4 to extend his hitting streak to 20 games, tying Colorado's Larry Walker for the major league high this season.

Dempster (1-3) gave up one run and four hits with six strikeouts. Antonio Alfonseca pitched two innings for his third save, striking out Darren Bragg with the bases loaded and two outs in the eighth.

Dempster, 21, won for the first time in six starts since being called up in May from Double-A Portland.

"I told him before the game that he was going to win his first game in the majors," Florida manager Jim Leyland said jokingly. "That shows you how smart I am.

"Seriously, the kid was pitching in `A' ball last year, and he just went out and beat the Boston Red Sox. That's not easy to do."

Edgar Renteria went 3-for-4 for the Marlins, who bounced back after losing to the Red Sox on Friday and Saturday by a combined 15-5.

Boston's Derek Lowe (0-7) lasted 4 2-3 innings, allowing three runs and five hits.

Dempster pitched out of trouble in the sixth and seventh, with the Marlins clinging to a 3-1 lead.

In the sixth, the Red Sox had runners on first and second, but Lou Merloni struck out to end the threat. In the seventh, Bragg was stranded at third when Darren Lewis tapped out to second.

Leyland visited the mound in the seventh, but it wasn't to take Dempster out of the game. Instead, Leyland gave his young pitcher a pep talk, and it worked.

"I wanted to make sure that he was OK, that he wasn't getting too anxious," Leyland said. "I thought he responded pretty good."

Florida took a 2-0 in the first inning on Todd Zeile's sacrifice fly and Cliff Floyd's two-out triple.

Boston scored a run in the second when Garciaparra led off with a double, moved to third on Scott Hatteberg's infield out and scored on Mike Benjamin's single.

The Marlins added another run in the third to take a 3-1 lead. Renteria led off with a double, advanced to third on Mark Kotsay's groundout and scored on Lowe's wild pitch.

Kotsay hit an RBI double in the seventh and Gregg Zaun led off the eighth with a solo homer off John Wasdin to make it -1.

While Dempster earned his first win in the majors, Lowe struggled and remained winless for the season.

"Sometimes it's a game of inches," Lowe said. "I felt that I was that close with some of my pitches, but they wind up going for big hits. I didn't really have an easy inning out there today."

Added Red Sox manager Jimy Williams: "We didn't score enough today, and so you have to tip your cap to their guy. That guy (Dempster) pitched a really nice game for them."

Notes: The Marlins have 14 rookies on their 25-man roster, eight of them pitchers... Boston hitting coach Jim Rice is impressed by Garciaparra. "He's gifted," Rice said. "It's something you can't put a finger on. He has that mental edge at the plate. You look at all your great hitters through the years, guys like (Rod) Carew and (George) Brett, and they had that same thing." ... The Red Sox are 34-15 in games started by Wakefield, Pedro Martinez and Bret Saberhagen. ... Walker had a 20-game hitting streak from from May 4-25.

©1998 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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