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Penny's pitching has Marlins on brink of winning World Series

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Miami, FL (Sports Network) - After struggling in his first two starts of the playoffs, has been nearly unbeatable in the World Series. Now his are just one victory away from winning the title after holding off the New York 6-4 in Game 5 Thursday night at Pro Player Stadium. The win moved Florida to a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series heading back to New York for Game 6 Saturday night.

Penny was pounded for 11 hits and 11 runs in six innings in his first two starts of the postseason, and was used out of the bullpen three times. The righthander was almost forced to start Game 1 of the World Series due to rest issues facing other Florida pitchers after a grueling seven games against the Chicago in the National League Championship Series.

That move to start Penny has twice paid off for the . He threw 5 1/3 solid innings in a 3-2 victory in Game 1 and Thursday night limited the to two runs -- one earned -- over seven innings. Penny gave up eight hits, walked two and struck out four batters before being replaced by . It was a gutsy performance for Penny, who nearly came out of in a rocky seventh inning due to a blister on a finger of his pitching hand. Penny allowed one run in the seventh inning, but was able to escape a bases-loaded jam by getting to fly out to short right field. That left Florida with a 6-2 lead.

Penny then pumped his fist in exuberance coming off the mound.

"It's a dream to pitch in the World Series," Penny said following the game. "To beat a team like that, I got the most respect in the world for that team. I mean, you can't explain it."

To make matters worse for the , Penny delivered a two-run single to right field on a first-pitch fastball off in the second inning, to give Florida the lead for good at 3-1.

"I was swinging at the first pitch no matter what it was," said Penny. "It happened to be over the plate...happened to get lucky."

After building a five-run lead, the were barely able to hold off the in the ninth inning. belted a pinch-hit homer off with one out. then singled past a diving first baseman and followed with an RBI double to the right field corner.

The then breathed a collective sigh of relief when narrowly missed a home run, as rightfielder caught the ball just in front of the wall. grounded out sharply to Lee to end the game.

"Our guys, they seem to be able to get out of most of those jams most of the time," said manager Jack McKeon. "(We) didn't last night, but we were able to come back and win. We were able to get out of it. It gets a little scary once in a while."

ONE WIN AWAY FROM MAGICAL ENDING

The have played from behind all season. Now they'll finally get an opportunity to see what it's like from the top when they head to New York for Game 6 Saturday night.

McKeon's club fought back from 10 games under .500 early in the year and won the National League wild card the final few days of the regular season. Then the found themselves down a game to the San Francisco in the division series, but won the final three games. Florida was then down 3-1 in the NLCS to the Chicago , but showed its resilience again with three straight wins.

Turn the page to the World Series, and McKeon's men have once again proven their toughness. Following consecutive 6-1 losses in Games 2 and 3, the could have lost their focus. However, they remained tough and squeaked out a 4-3 victory Wednesday night on a homer by in the bottom of the 12th inning, right after blowing a 3-1 lead in the ninth inning.

Several players stepped to the forefront Thursday night, including Penny and , who hit a two-run single in the fifth inning to extend the to a 6-1 lead.

"I think what we're looking at is one out of one," said Lowell. "We've taken it one game at a time, especially in Chicago when our backs were against the wall. I think we took Game 5 and focused on that. Then we got past that test and went to Game 6. I don't think we're going to take this any different. I think we're going to look at Game 6, try to win that game. If not, we'll try to win Game 7. I don't think we're wrapped up in, 'Hey, all we have to do is go 1-1.' We're focused. I think we know it's going to be a tough battle. But I think we'll be ready."

As the moved closer to winning the World Series for the second time in

only the franchise's second playoff appearance, their players are brimming with confidence due to the fact that they can finish off the team with the highest payroll in the majors. Yet, Penny remains cautious.

"It's not over yet," said Penny. "We're one game away. We're real excited. We've got to go out and take care of business."

BECKETT FOR GAME 6?

McKeon remained mum on his starter for Game 6, but it could be , who lost Game 3 Tuesday night. Beckett would pitch on three days' rest.

The 23-year-old Beckett pitched an incredible game Tuesday night, but the lost. He was lifted after allowing just three hits and two runs in 7 1/3 innings. The righty also walked three and struck out 10, while tossing 108 pitches. He has 39 strikeouts in this postseason.

After throwing a two-hit shutout against the in Game 5 of the NLCS, Beckett came back on two days' rest and threw four strong innings in relief.

"We brought him back on two days' rest and he did a fabulous job in Chicago," said McKeon. "So I think any of those guys will tell you they want to pitch. If they're strong and healthy, I don't see any problem with that. Because if you go to the seventh game, you're in the same situation. But three days and four days, I think it's in your mind, really. I don't think it makes any difference. Years ago, they used to go three days, you only had four-man rotations. You went every four days. We'll see how both of those guys feel and make that determination. If they're ready to go, we'll let them go."

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