The Florida Marlins did their best to create a homey atmosphere -- their mascot danced on the field, their P.A. announcer did the lineups, they even wore white pants.
Chased out of Florida by Hurricane Ivan, the Marlins staged an eighth-inning rally yesterday to beat the Montreal Expos in a strange setting at Chicago's U.S. Cellular Field.
"Yeah, you got to feel like we're at home, even when we're in a different city. We still want to get back home to our houses and hopefully Ivan won't cause any more havoc," catcher Paul Lo Duca said after the Marlins scored six runs in the eighth inning to beat the Expos, 6-3.
"It was a little weird early but once you get on the field, everything is fine, you just go back to playing baseball," Lo Duca said.
"You miss your crowd and you miss going home right now. Now we go back to the hotel an hour away. That's a little difficult."
Florida, two games behind wild-card leader San Francisco, will play the Expos at U.S. Cellular again today.
The Marlins announced after yesterday's game that the teams will play a doubleheader in Miami at 3:05 p.m. tomorrow, and a single game Thursday night.
Before yesterday, the last NL game in an AL ballpark was in 1946, when the Boston Braves played several games at Fenway Park because a paint job on the seats at Braves Field had not dried, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
A small but spirited crowd announced at 4,003 transformed the home park of the White Sox into a foul-ball chaser's paradise. With the upper deck closed, most of the fans who spent $15 for a ticket -- $5 going to hurricane relief -- sat behind the dugouts and close to the field. There was a loud pro-Expos contingent, some dressed in Cubs attire.
The Expos, who know something about moving around after playing a portion of their home schedule in Puerto Rico the last two years, got two runs in the first off Josh Beckett on Tony Batista's RBI grounder and a triple by Terrmel Sledge.
Sun Wood Kim blanked the Marlins for seven innings before Florida broke through against the bullpen, scoring five unearned runs.
Florida rallied in the eighth with help from errors by reliever Gary Majewski (0-1), Batista at third, Juan Rivera in right and Endy Chavez in center.
Batista made an error on a ball hit by Miguel Cabrera as the first run scored, Mike Lowell's sacrifice fly tied the score, and Florida took a 4-2 lead when Rivera couldn't catch Alex Gonzalez's shallow fly. Pinch hitter Lenny Harris, who earlier had been hit by a flying bat that slipped out of Gonzalez's hand, followed with a two-run single.
Batista homered in the ninth. Matt Perisho (5-2) was the winner in relief.
* METS 9, BRAVES 7: Mike Piazza and Richard Hidalgo homered, and pinch hitter Craig Brazell came through with a go-ahead double as New York rallied at Shea Stadium, where a crowd of only 1,000 had gathered at the start of the first game of a day-night doubleheader.
After the Mets spent all afternoon answering questions about the future of Manager Art Howe, they came back from a three-run deficit to win for only the third time in 22 games. Aaron Heilman (1-1) earned his first major league win in more than a year, and Wilson Delgado also homered.
Andruw Jones hit a two-run shot to help the NL East-leading Braves build a 4-1 lead, but Jaret Wright (14-7) couldn't hold it. New York scored five times in the sixth. Piazza hit a two-run homer, and Brazell's two-out, two-run double down the right-field line gave the Mets a 5-4 lead.