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Mazzone accepts pitch to join Orioles' staff

Pitching coach Leo Mazzone and the Baltimore Orioles reached agreement on a three-year contract last night, hours after the Atlanta Braves coach ended discussions with the New York Yankees.

''The deal is finished business," according to a source close to the negotiations, who spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity.

Mazzone, considered to be one of the finest pitching coaches in the majors, has been in the Atlanta organization since 1979 and was pitching coach of the Braves since 1990. From 1992 through this season, the Braves ranked first or second in the NL in ERA in every year but two.

Mazzone, 57, and Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo grew up together in Cumberland, Md. Perlozzo was the best man at Mazzone's wedding.

Earlier yesterday, the Yankees ended talks with Mazzone.

Marlins hook Girardi

Yankees bench coach Joe Girardi was hired as manager of the Florida Marlins, agreeing to a three-year contract. Girardi, who also interviewed for the Tampa Bay job, spent 15 years as a major league catcher, then went into broadcasting in 2004 and came out of the booth to join the Yankees' staff this season. Girardi, 41, will succeed Jack McKeon, who led the Marlins to the World Series title in 2003 but resigned after the team finished a disappointing 83-79 this year.

Urbina questioned

Phillies reliever Ugueth Urbina has been questioned about his role in a bloody brawl Sunday on family property in Venezuela, according to newspaper reports. The incident occurred after a welcome-home party for the pitcher. Urbina, 31, went out to eat, then returned about 2 a.m. with several people to the farm in the town of Ocumare del Tuy. According to one of the farm workers, Urbina started asking about a firearm that had disappeared. The worker, 21-year-old Ricardo Osal, told police that Urbina and others rounded up the workers, beat them, attacked them with a machete, then splattered gasoline and paint thinner on them and burned them. At least five people were injured.

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