Beckett pitched three-hit ball for six innings, allowing only an unearned run and striking out seven to lead the Marlins to a 20-1 win over the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday.
Beckett, who threw 91 pitches, made his first start in nearly two months following an elbow injury. It was the right-hander’s first outing since May 7, when he was pulled after one inning against San Francisco because of a stiff right elbow.
Beckett is 3-3 with a 3.28 ERA and 52 strikeouts in nine starts this year. The Marlins are hoping he can help them to their fourth straight win.
Mark Redman pitched his second straight complete game and Juan Encarnacion homered and drove in three runs as the Marlins completed their first sweep ever in Philadelphia with a 6-3 win over the Phillies on Sunday.
The Cubs have lost nine of 12, including two of three against rival St. Louis over the weekend.
Chicago was handcuffed by Cardinals ace Woody Williams on Sunday, managing just one run and eight hits in a 4-1 loss.
The Cubs’ latest slide has knocked them out of first place in the NL Central, two games behind St. Louis.
Cubs outfielder Corey Patterson left Sunday’s game with a sprained left knee after landing awkwardly on first base in the eighth inning. Patterson, who is day-to-day, is tied with teammate Moises Alou with a team-high .298 batting average. He also leads Chicago with 49 runs and 16 stolen bases.
STANDINGS: Marlins - 4th place, 10 1/2 GB, NL East. Cubs - 2nd place (tied), 2 GB, NL Central.
MARLINS PROBABLE STARTER: Beckett (3-3, 3.28 ERA). Beckett, 23, beat the Cubs 1-0 in his first career start on Sept. 4, 2001. The hard-throwing right-hander held Chicago to one hit over six innings, striking out five. He has not faced them since.
CUBS PROBABLE STARTER: Matt Clement (5-7, 4.58 ERA). Clement is 0-1 with a 5.00 ERA over his last three starts. The 28-year-old righty failed to earn a decision his last time out despite tossing seven scoreless innings and allowing one hit in a 1-0 Cubs loss to the Phillies on Tuesday. Clement, a former Marlin, is 4-1 with a 3.00 ERA in seven career starts against Florida.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Marlins - Luis Castillo, .320 avg.; Mike Lowell, 26 HRs, 73 RBIs and 60 runs; Pierre, 40 SBs. Cubs - Alou and Patterson, .298 avg.; Alou, 14 HRs and 56 RBIs; Patterson, 49 runs and 16 SBs.
2002 SEASON SERIES: Cubs, 4-2.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Marlins - OF Pierre has a major league-leading 40 stolen bases. It marks his third straight season with 40 or more. … The Marlins are 13-5 in their last 18 road games. … Manager Jack McKeon is 30-21 since taking over the Marlins on May 11. Cubs - RHP Mark Prior and RHP Kerry Wood were selected to represent Chicago in the All-Star Game on July 15. Prior leads the NL with 145 strikeouts. Wood is second with 144. … OF Sammy Sosa will not be going to the All-Star game for the first time in six seasons. Sosa is hitting .291 with 13 homers and 41 RBIs. … OF Alou went 7-for-10 with four home runs and six RBIs over is last three games.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Marlins - 21-24 on the road; Cubs - 21-21 at home.
INJURIES: 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. Cubs - LHP Will Ohman (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Scott Chiasson (elbow), 60-day DL.