CHICAGO (Ticker) --
was five outs away from leading the
to their first World Series appearance in 58 years. Then the comeback kids took over.
took advantage of several botched plays by the Cubs and rallied for eight runs in the eighth inning and an 8-3 victory that evened the National League Championship Series at three games apiece.
After allowing just three hits through seven innings, Prior (2-1) opened the eighth by getting
to fly out. But the Marlins, who staved off elimination behind
on Sunday, battered Prior and two relievers to notch their fifth postseason comeback win and set up Wednesday's decisive seventh game.
On the 95th anniversary of Chicago's last World Series title, Mordecai provided the big blow, belting a three-run double off the left-center field wall against
to give Florida a 7-3 lead.
"We always feel like we're in the game," Mordecai said. "We took advantage of every opportunity. In that inning there tonight, we got two extra outs. ... When you give our club those extra outs, we usually take advantage of them."
A fan interfering with a foul pop and an error by Cubs shortstop
allowed the Marlins to move within a win of becoming the second team in NLCS history to overcome a three games to one deficit.
"I've never seen eight runs in an inning in a playoff game," said Florida manager Jack McKeon, whose team can join the 1996
as the only teams to climb out of a 3-1 NLCS hole. "But it's baseball and things like that happen once in a while. And you'll probably see it again in your lifetime."
Of the 17 postseason victories in franchise history, Florida has come back to win 13 times.
(1-0) benefited from the bizarre inning, getting the win after retiring just one of three batters he faced in the seventh.
looks to earn Chicago its first World Series appearance since 1945 on Wednesday, when he faces Florida lefthander
"We let that one go, but we know we have another chance tomorrow and we'll come through tomorrow, no question about it," Cubs slugger
said. "We have to forget about this one and just go home and get some sleep."
After allowing three earned runs in his first two playoff starts, Prior worked out of a first-inning jam and nursed a 1-0 lead through five before the Cubs plated runs in the sixth and seventh to build a three-run cushion.
In the eighth,
ripped a one-out double down the third base line before
lifted a 3-2 offering near the left field stands. As left fielder
positioned himself to make the catch, a fan reached over the railing and knocked away the ball.
"I think so, 100 percent, I had a chance, but now I feel bad for the (fan)," Alou said. "I was very upset at the time because I was there, I had my eyes on the ball and then there is a hand on my glove and on the ball. ... I know everybody when they go to a ballpark wants to catch a baseball. It's very special, but I hope he doesn't have to regret it the rest of his life."
"I asked Mo what happened. He said he had it perfectly timed and the ball was just about to enter his glove and all of a sudden, it was gone," Cubs manager
said. "The only words I have is maybe he was a Marlins' fan. That's the only thing I can come up with."
The fan was wearing a Cubs' cap.
While Alou expressed his displeasure and glared at the fan, Prior threw his next pitch under catcher
, walking Castillo and allowing Pierre to take third.
Extending his postseason hitting streak to 10 games,
followed with a single to left that scored Pierre with Florida's first run. The RBI was Rodriguez's ninth of the series, tying
' 1989 NLCS record.
Prior still was in position to escape, getting rookie
to ground the next pitch to shortstop. But Gonzalez had the ball hit the heel of his glove, costing Chicago a shot at an inning-ending double play and loading the bases.
"I didn't think it would be a double play because I knew it would be a tough play for him and I was running hard," Cabrera said.
"I don't think anyone is perfect," added Prior, who refused to blame his shortstop for the error. "Nobody is here with a 1.000 fielding percentage. The guys behind me have done a great job all year."
With one hit in his previous 16 at-bats,
stroked a two-run double to left, tying the game and ending Prior's night. But the Marlins were just beginning.
"I'm thinking, just keep it off the ground, get it in the air and keep it off the ground," Conine said. "It was a good pitch, not too high, middle to up, and I got it deep enough."
Prior allowed five runs - three earned - and six hits in 7 1/3 innings. The sophomore sensation walked three and struck out six while throwing 119 pitches.
"I'm not upset with myself," Prior said. "I just didn't execute on the 1-2 pitch with Pudge and with the one to Lee. Hey, they are a good team."
was walked intentionally to fill the bases for Mordecai, who hammered a 2-1 pitch to left-center to give Florida a four-run lead.
"We came up with a few base hits and a couple extra-base hits, and next thing you know, it's 4-3," Mordecai said. "And then I happened to hit a ball in the gap and extend the lead. ... Things start happening and that's the way our club rolls."
came on and watched Pierre hit his first offering into right field for an RBI single, giving the Marlins an 8-3 cushion.
It took just three batters for Chicago to take the lead against
, who was making his first career postseason start.
led off the first with a single and advanced on a sacrifice by
. Sosa followed with a double to right, giving the Cubs their 12th first-inning run of the series.
Alou reached on an infield hit, but Pavano settled down and yielded just two more hits until running into trouble in the sixth.
Sosa led off the inning with a bat-shattering single to third and Alou stroked a base hit to left. The hero of Game Four,
ruined a big inning by grounding into a double play, moving Sosa to third.
NL Rookie of the Year candidate
entered to face
, but Baker countered with veteran
, who worked a five-pitch walk. Rodriguez was unable to handle ball four and Sosa raced home to give Chicago a 2-0 advantage.
Bako started the seventh with a single and was sacrificed to second. Willis struck out Lofton before giving way to Fox, whose first offering to Grudzielanek was smacked to center for an RBI single.