The Florida Marlins have rejuvenated themselves in Cincinnati, which pleases former Reds manager Jack McKeon.
“Our guys are picking each other up,” said McKeon, who replaced fired Florida skipper Jeff Torborg earlier this month. “We’re getting key hits, and we haven’t been doing that on this road trip.”
Losers of six in a row before arriving at Great American Ball Park, the Marlins shoot for a three-game sweep of the Reds in the series finale.
Alex Gonzalez and ex-Red Juan Encarnacion each had three hits to lead the Marlins to their second straight win in Saturday’s 5-4 victory. Florida has not won three in a row since April 22-24, when it swept a three-game set at Milwaukee.
Ken Griffey Jr. hit a pair of two-run homers for Cincinnati on Saturday, but the Reds suffered their third straight loss, slipping below .500 for the first time since May 17.
Griffey, who hasn’t started back-to-back games since coming off the disabled list on May 13, was thinking about asking manager Bob Boone whether he could play again Sunday.
“We need to get one before we go into Atlanta,” Griffey said, referring to the Reds’ upcoming series with the league-leading Braves. ”(Sunday’s) a big day for us. You never want to go on a road trip with a loss. It makes an hour plane trip seem like four or five.”
Griffey has three homers in his last five games.
STANDINGS: Marlins - 5th place, 12 1/2 GB, NL East. Reds - 4th place, 3 1/2 GB, NL Central.
MARLINS PROBABLE STARTER: Dontrelle Willis (1-1, 7.07 ERA). The rookie left-hander followed up his first major league win with a 6-4 loss at Montreal on Tuesday. He allowed five runs and eight hits over three innings. Willis is making his first career start against the Reds.
REDS PROBABLE STARTER: Danny Graves (3-2, 4.91 ERA). Graves had won three straight decisions before getting tagged for six runs and six hits over 7 1-3 innings in the Reds’ 9-8 win over the Braves on Tuesday. The right-hander has eight saves and a 3.13 ERA in 21 career relief appearances against Florida. This will be his first start against the Marlins.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Marlins - Luis Castillo, .323 avg.; Mike Lowell, 15 HRs, 40 RBIs and 32 runs; Pierre, 19 SBs. Reds - Jose Guillen, .331 avg.; Adam Dunn, 17 HRs; Austin Kearns, 44 RBIs; Aaron Boone, 34 runs and 7 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Marlins, 2-0.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Marlins - 3B Lowell is 5-for-10 with a home run and two RBIs in his career against RHP Graves. … 1B Derrek Lee played in his 259th consecutive game Saturday, breaking a tie with Preston Wilson for second place on the club’s all-time list. Jeff Conine holds the record at 307. … C Ivan Rodriguez left Saturday’s game after six innings with a bruised right foot. X-rays were negative and he is listed as day-to-day. Reds - Left-handed batters are hitting just .197 against RHP Graves this season. … OF Kearns had his hitting streak snapped at a career-high 16 games Saturday. … OF Griffey’s two-homer game on Saturday was the 45th of his career. He has 47 multi-homer games.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Marlins - 10-19 on the road; Reds - 15-12 at home.
INJURIES: Marlins - C Rodriguez (foot), day-to-day; RHP Josh Beckett (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Toby Borland (appendicitis), 15-day DL; LHP Mark Redman (thumb), 15-day DL; RHP A.J. Burnett (elbow), 60-day DL; OF Abraham Nunez (hamstring), 60-day DL. Reds - SS Barry Larkin (calf), 15-day DL; OF Russell Branyan (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Ryan Dempster (neck), 15-day DL; RHP Jimmy Haynes (back), 15-day DL; RHP Luke Prokopec (shoulder), 60-day DL.
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