Florida manager Jack McKeon knows the Marlins would not be near the top of the NL wild card race if not for Juan Pierre.
He’ll again look for the speedy outfielder to spark the Marlins in the finale of their three-game series with the San Diego Padres at Pro Player Stadium.
“He’s been one of the unsung heroes for the entire season,” McKeon said of Pierre. “Everybody just thinks of him as a base stealer, but he plays (great) defense and he’s the catalyst for our offense.
“When he gets on, the engine starts. The kid’s a workaholic. He’s pure gold. He’s a super kid, he works and I just love him.”
Pierre, who leads the majors with 57 stolen bases, was dynamic Saturday. He drove in two runs with a triple off the wall in center and saved two runs with a running catch in the deepest part of the park to lead the Marlins to a 6-3 victory.
Despite the win, Florida remained a half-game behind the Philadelphia Phillies in the wild card race.
San Diego has lost four straight and fell to 1-4 during its current six-game road trip. The Padres have been outscored 30-8 during their four-game skid.
STANDINGS: Padres - 5th place, 27 1/2 GB, NL West. Marlins - 3rd place, 12 1/2 GB, NL East.
PADRES PROBABLE STARTER: Adam Eaton (7-8, 4.25 ERA). Eaton has won five of his last six decisions, including a 14-4 win over the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday. The 25-year-old right-hander worked five innings and allowed four runs and six hits. Eaton pitched eight shutout innings to earn a win in his only previous start against the Marlins.
MARLINS PROBABLE STARTER: Josh Beckett (5-6, 3.48 ERA). Beckett is winless over his past three starts, going 0-2 with a 4.34 ERA. On Tuesday, he pitched six innings, giving up four runs and nine hits, but did not earn a decision in the Marlins’ 5-4 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers. The 23-year-old right-hander has never faced the Padres.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Padres - Mark Loretta, .324 avg. and 56 runs; Ryan Klesko, 20 HRs; Rondell White, 63 RBIs; Ramon Vazquez, 10 SBs. Marlins - Luis Castillo, .317 avg. and 80 runs; Mike Lowell, 32 HRs and 102 RBIs; Juan Pierre, 57 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Marlins, 4-1.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Padres - San Diego’s bullpen has allowed 10 earned in the last 8 1-3 innings. … OF Mark Kotsay was out of the starting lineup Saturday, a day after jarring his lower back while making a diving catch. … 2B Loretta went 0-for-5 on Saturday, snapping a 13-game hitting streak. Marlins - RF Juan Encarnacion is batting .340 (16-for-47) with 11 RBIs in his last 12 games. … LF Miguel Cabrera is batting .333 (10-for-30) during an eight-game hitting streak. … Florida has won nine of its last 11 games against San Diego.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Padres - 23-41 on the road; Marlins - 39-25 at home.
INJURIES: Padres - INF Keith Lockhart (back), 15-day DL; OF Jason Bay (wrist), 15-day DL; RHP Trevor Hoffman (shoulder), 60-day DL. Marlins - RHP Kevin Olsen (concussion), 15-day DL; LHP Tommy Phelps (elbow), 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.