Atlanta (51-29) at Miami (42-42)

Cloudy Currently: Miami Gardens, FL
Temp: 83° F
  • Game info: 7:05 pm EDT Tue Jul 1, 2003
  • TV: SPSO, WPXM
Preview | Box Score | Recap

So far Josh Beckett’s potential has far exceeded his production on the field.

Following another extended stint on the disabled list, Beckett returns to the mound for the Florida Marlins as they take on the Atlanta Braves at Pro Player Stadium.

Beckett is 2-3 with a 3.76 ERA in eight starts for the Marlins this season. The hard-throwing right-hander has been a highly regarded prospect since getting selected by the Marlins with the second overall pick in the 1999 amateur draft.

Beckett went 6-7 with 113 strikeouts and a 4.10 ERA in 22 games in 2002, but missed several starts with blisters on his pitching hand.

The hard-throwing right-hander will be making his first start since leaving a May 7 game against San Francisco after one inning with a right elbow strain.

Manager Jack McKeon said Beckett would not be held to a predetermined pitch count, but added the team would “be cautious the first time out. We’re not expecting miracles.”

Beckett was held to 75 pitches Thursday for Double-A Carolina.

He made his rehab debut on June 21 for Florida’s Class A team in Jupiter, Fla., throwing 42 pitches—27 for strikes—in three innings.

With the emergence of Dontrelle Willis (9-1) and the rock steady pitching of Mark Redman (6-3), the Marlins could have themselves a solid top-half of their pitching rotation if Beckett lives up to his enormous potential.

Redman pitched a five-hitter and Florida roughed up Greg Maddux in an 8-1 win over the Braves on Monday.

Maddux gave up seven runs on six hits in four innings to drop his record to 6-8.

“These guys are good,” Atlanta manager Bobby Cox said of the Marlins. “They got good hitters, great pitching, super defense. It’s no easy task to beat these guys.”

Ivan Rodriguez hit a three-run homer in the first inning off Maddux and Derrek Lee connected later, as the Marlins pulled back to .500 for the fourth time in seven games.

Atlanta has lost five of eight.

STANDINGS: Braves - 1st place, NL East. Marlins - 4th place, 11 GB, NL East.

BRAVES PROBABLE STARTER: Mike Hampton (3-4, 3.84 ERA). Hampton allowed eight hits and five runs—four earned—in five innings of an 8-1 loss to Philadelphia on Thursday. The left-hander struck out six and walked three. Hampton has dominated the Marlins in his career, going 8-1 with a 3.41 ERA in 12 games, including 11 starts.

MARLINS PROBABLE STARTER: Beckett (2-3, 3.76 ERA). Beckett, 23, is 1-3 with a 1.80 ERA in three career starts against the Braves. The right-hander has 45 strikeouts in 40 2-3 innings this season. He’s struck out 182 in 172 1-3 innings over his three-year career.

OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Braves - Gary Sheffield, .323 avg., 64 RBIs and 66 runs; Javy Lopez, 23 HRs; Rafael Furcal, 14 SBs. Marlins - Alex Gonzalez, .310 avg.; Mike Lowell, 25 HRs, 68 RBIs and 55 runs; Juan Pierre, 38 SBs.

SEASON SERIES: Tied, 4-4.

STREAKS AND NOTES: Braves - OF Chipper Jones is 2-for-7 with a home run against RHP Beckett. Jones is batting .313 with 18 home runs and 77 RBIs in 115 career games against Florida. … SS Furcal leads the NL with eight triples. … RHP Paul Byrd will have reconstructive surgery Tuesday on his pitching elbow. Byrd, who had bone chips removed from his right elbow on April 11, pitched just one inning for the Braves in spring training. He was 17-11 with 3.90 ERA with Kansas City in 2002. Marlins - RHP Blaine Neal was sent down to Triple-A Albuquerque to make room on the roster for Beckett. … C Rodriguez is 35-for-93 over his last 25 games, raising his batting average from .239 to .290. … OF Pierre leads the majors with 38 stolen bases.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Braves - 24-17 on the road; Marlins - 24-18 at home.

INJURIES: Braves - RHP Byrd (elbow), 15-day DL. Marlins - RHP Kevin Olsen (concussion), 15-day DL; RHP Tim Spooneybarger (arm), 15-day DL; RHP Toby Borland (appendicitis), 60-day DL; RHP A.J. Burnett (elbow), 60-day DL.

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Starting Pitchers

M. Hampton Ari vs. J. Beckett LAD
14-8 Record 9-8
3.84 ERA 3.04
110 K 152
78 BB 56
1.39 WHIP 1.32