Costly Gator errors spark Hurricanes to victory

Published: Saturday, March 1, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, March 2, 2008 at 12:15 a.m.

CORAL GABLES Kevin O'Sullivan sat alone in the Gators' dugout gazing at a box score of his team's 8-5 loss to No. 9 Miami Saturday night at sold-out Mark Light Stadium.

Florida's problems jumped right off the page: Five Gator errors and a wild pitch that led to four unearned Hurricane runs.

"The bottom line is you make five errors you're not going to win very many ball games," O'Sullivan said. "We stress pitching and defense. We've got to play better."

The Gators wasted a solid start from junior Patrick Keating as well as an early 5-2 lead. Miami broke a 5-5 tie in the seventh inning when left fielder Dave DiNatale drilled a two-run single off reliever Josh Edmondson with one out to cap a three-run inning.

The loss snapped Florida's streak of three-straight regular-season series victories against the Hurricanes. Miami will go for the sweep when the teams conclude their weekend series today at 1 p.m.

"We've got to learn to win on the road," O'Sullivan said. "It's like a fourth-quarter lead in football or a second-half lead in basketball. We've got to learn to close the deal."

Florida also must learn to play better defense. Through two games here, Florida has

surrendered nine unearned runs. On Saturday, left fielder Avery Barnes committed two errors, second baseman Clayton Pisani two and first baseman Brandon McArthur one.

Pisani, who also committed an error in Friday's 8-4 loss which led to five unearned runs, cost Florida again Saturday. Pisani booted back-to-back ground balls to lead off Miami's fifth inning. Both runners would score two batters later when first baseman Yonder Alonso delivered a two-run double to cut Florida's lead to 5-4 and chase Keating from the game.

"Sometimes that happens," Keating said. "Personally, I didn't respond well to it. I didn't pitch well after those errors."

Florida's players said the errors are just part of the game.

"It's disappointing because we work hard (on defense)," said shortstop Cole Figueroa, who went 3-for-5 with three RBIs. "But it's baseball. These things happen.

"Those guys who made the errors tonight are usually good defensive players."

Keating gave up six hits and four runs over four innings, but just one of the runs was earned. The loss went to reliever Billy Bullock (1-1), whose lead-off walk to Blake Tikotte in the seventh began the Hurricanes' decisive game-winning rally.

Miami reliever Jason Santana (1-0) got the win in pitching 3 scoreless innings. Closer Carlos Gutierrez got the save after striking out three in 1 innings of work.

Florida is hoping to avoid the sweep today.

"We've got to get out of here with a W," O'Sullivan said. "There's not much we can do now to change tonight's game."

NOTES: Jonathan Pigott left the game after being hit in the back by a

Enrique Garcia pitch to lead off the fourth inning. O'Sullivan said Pigott was OK and was up and walking around the dugout after leaving the game. ... Dustin Bamberg made the start at designated hitter, his first appearance of the season. Bamberg was suspended for Florida's first three games for a violation of team rules.

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