Carl Pavano has saved his best pitching for the most important part of the season.
Pavano opened the season 6-10 with a 4.41 ERA over his first 20 starts. However, he began turning his season around by firing a five-hitter in a 9-1 win over the Montreal Expos on July 22—his second complete game of the season.
That performance ignited a run in which Pavano has gone 3-0 with a 4.11 ERA over his last four starts. He’s allowed more than two runs just once during the stretch, surrendering six over four innings of Florida’s 7-6 win over Philadelphia on July 27.
Pavano is coming off Friday’s 5-3 win over Milwaukee, yielding two runs and five hits over six innings. He struck out a season high-tying seven and walked one.
Florida snapped a two-game skid and took over the NL wild card lead with Tuesday’s 5-4, 13-inning victory. Third-string catcher Ramon Castro decided matters, hitting a walkoff homer with two out in the 13th.
“I’m happy I had a chance to win the game,” said Castro. “This team is for each other 100 percent. Everybody was clapping for me, and I’m happy for that too.”
The Marlins, who came from behind three times Tuesday, moved one-half game ahead of the Phillies in the chase for the wild card. Philadelphia fell to Milwaukee 6-3.
Jeromy Burnitz hit his 23rd homer for Los Angeles, which slipped 3 1/2 games behind Florida.
The Dodgers have lost two of three since a six-game win streak.
STANDINGS: Dodgers - 3rd place, 12 GB, NL West. Marlins - 3rd place, 11 1/2 GB, NL East.
DODGERS PROBABLE STARTER: Andy Ashby (3-9, 5.20 ERA). Ashby snapped a five-game losing streak with Friday’s 3-1 victory over the Chicago Cubs. The veteran right-hander, who had a 6.58 ERA during the skid, allowed just one run and three hits over five innings, striking out five and walking two. Ashby is 5-3 with a 2.74 ERA and two complete games in 14 career starts against Florida.
MARLINS PROBABLE STARTER: Pavano (9-10, 4.35 ERA). Pavano is 4-1 with a 2.76 ERA in eight career appearances against Los Angeles, including seven starts.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Dodgers - Paul Lo Duca, .292 avg.; Burnitz, 23 HRs; Shawn Green, 57 RBIs and 59 runs; Dave Roberts, 30 SBs. Marlins - Luis Castillo, .318 avg. and 78 runs; Mike Lowell, 31 HRs and 98 RBIs; Juan Pierre, 55 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Dodgers, 4-1.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Dodgers - OF Green is hitting .538 with three doubles, two homers and five RBIs in 13 career at-bats against RHP Pavano. … RHP Guillermo Mota, who pitched two perfect innings Tuesday, has retired 19 straight and has tossed 13 2-3 consecutive scoreless innings. … The Dodgers are last in the majors in home runs, slugging percentage and walks. Marlins - 3B Lowell, who was 1-for-6 with two RBIs on Tuesday, is hitting .360 (31-for-86) over his last 20 games with four homers and 24 RBIs. … The Marlins are a major league-best 46-25 since May 23, and are 49-32 since manager Jack McKeon replaced Jeff Torborg on May 11. … 1B Derrek Lee, who had missed four consecutive games with a sore right shoulder, was a defensive replacement in the ninth inning Tuesday. However, his status for Wednesday is uncertain.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Dodgers - 27-31 on the road; Marlins - 36-24 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 - 1B Lee (shoulder), day-to-day; 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.