On Wednesday, Willis gave up three earned runs and five hits in eight strong innings of a 7-3 win over the St. Louis Cardinals—at the time, the top-hitting team in the National League.
The win was Willis’ third in four decisions and tied the team record for rookie victories, set by Brian Meadows in 1998.
“It is what it is, man,” the always-animated Willis said. “You want to have success, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not like I’m in the Marlins’ stat book looking at the records.”
Willis, who has allowed just five runs and 12 hits over 21 innings in his last three starts, has been one of the keys to the Marlins’ surprising playoff run. Florida is tied with Philadelphia atop the NL wild card standings.
“I kind of don’t look at our guy like a rookie anymore,” manager Jack McKeon said. “He might have been a rookie his first four or five times out.
“He’s got the poise and the know-how of a guy that’s pitched a number of years.”
Willis, who has become the hottest attraction at Pro Player Stadium this season, is enjoying the playoff chase.
“Everyone wants to win the division, don’t get me wrong,” he said. “But if you can just get to the postseason, anything can happen.”
The Dodgers lost 3-1 to the Chicago Cubs on Sunday, snapping a six-game winning streak.
Shawn Green went 2-for-4 with a double for the Dodgers, who are 3 1/2 games behind the Marlins and Phillies in the wild card hunt.
STANDINGS: Dodgers - 3rd place, 12 1/2 GB, NL West. Marlins - 2nd place (tied), 12 GB, NL East.
DODGERS PROBABLE STARTER: Odalis Perez (7-9, 4.52 ERA). Perez gave up one earned run and three hits in seven innings of a 2-1 win over the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday. He is 1-1 with 6.35 ERA in six career appearances, including three starts, against Florida.
MARLINS PROBABLE STARTER: Willis (11-2, 2.56 ERA). Willis, a California native, has never faced the Dodgers.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Dodgers - Paul Lo Duca, .291 avg.; Jeromy Burnitz, 22 HRs; Green and Burnitz, 55 RBIs; Green, 57 runs; Dave Roberts, 29 SBs. Marlins - Luis Castillo, .314 avg. and 75 runs; Lowell, 31 HRs and 96 RBIs; Juan Pierre, 55 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Dodgers, 3-0.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Dodgers - OF Burnitz is 0-for-6 with three strikeouts against LHP Willis. … RF Green’s double in the seventh Sunday was his 41st of the season and moved him into fifth place on the Dodgers all-time single-season list. Raul Mondesi is fourth with 42, set in 1997. … RHP Guillermo Mota appeared in his 53rd game Sunday, matching his career high, set in 2001 while pitching for the Expos. … Marlins - 1B Derrek Lee, who missed the last two games with an injured shoulder, could return to the lineup Monday. … Through Saturday’s games, the Marlins’ 15-6 second-half record was the best in the NL and second only to the Chicago White Sox at 16-6. … The bullpen has given up just two earned runs in its last 29 2-3 innings.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Dodgers - 26-30 on the road; Marlins - 35-23 at home.
INJURIES: Dodgers - C Todd Hundley (back), 15-day DL; 1B Fred McGriff (abductor muscle), 15-day DL; OF Brian Jordan (knee), 15-day DL; LHP Troy Brohawn (rotator cuff), 15-day DL; LHP Kazuhisa Ishii (knee), 15-day DL; RHP Darren Dreifort (knee), 60-day DL; LHP Derek Thompson (elbow), 60-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; 1B Lee (shoulder), day-to-day.