Miami (69-58) at San Francisco (76-50)

Cloudy Currently: San Francisco, CA
Temp: 68° F
  • Game info: 10:15 pm EDT Fri Aug 22, 2003
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Looking to bolster their rotation, the San Francisco Giants traded away three young pitchers to obtain Sidney Ponson.

They are still waiting for a return on their investment.

The 26-year-old right-hander looks to snap a three-game losing streak when he squares off against rookie phenom Dontrell Willis as the Giants meet the Florida Marlins in the opener of a three-game series at Pacific Bell Park.

Ponson may be mired in his longest skid of the season, but the Giants are re-energized after Barry Bonds lifted them to a three-game sweep of the Atlanta Braves.

Bonds beat the Braves with an extra-inning homer for the second time in three days, connecting in the 10th Thursday for a 4-3 victory. He also beat the Braves 5-4 with a similar shot Tuesday.

Ponson could use some similar help.

Acquired July 31 from Baltimore for left-hander Damian Moss, right-hander Kurt Ainsworth and a minor leaguer, Ponson is 0-3 with a 4.03 ERA in three starts with the Giants.

Though he was reached for a combined seven runs and 15 hits over 14 innings in his first two starts, he seemed primed to pick up his first career National League victory Sunday.

He scattered just three hits in holding Montreal scoreless over the first eight frames before loading the bases in the ninth and watching closer Tim Worrell surrender a game-winning homer.

“It’s really tough,” Ponson said. “To blow it like I did, I have no words to describe it. … It was a loss and I don’t feel good, no matter how well I pitched.

“It was probably my toughest loss ever.”

Fresh off getting swept three straight by the Colorado Rockies, including Thursday’s 5-4 loss, the Marlins will turn to Willis to end their skid.

Willis opened the season 9-1 with a 2.08 ERA over his first 13 starts, but is 3-2 with a 6.10 ERA over his last six outings.

He didn’t receive a decision in Florida’s 6-3 win Saturday over San Diego, allowing three runs and seven hits over six innings.

“I do the best I can to keep my team in the game,” Willis said. “After you are down you can easily fold. That’s where you see what you’re made of.”

Despite the three-game skid, Florida remained a half-game behind Philadelphia in the NL wild-card race.

STANDINGS: Marlins - 3rd place, 12 GB, NL East. Giants - 1st place, NL West.

MARLINS PROBABLE STARTER: Willis (11-3, 3.18 ERA). Willis has limited opponents to a .243 average and a .305 on-base percentage this season, striking out 105 and walking 37 over 113 1-3 innings. He will be making his first career start against San Francisco.

GIANTS PROBABLE STARTER: Ponson (0-3, 4.03 ERA). Opponents are hitting .232 and have a .292 on-base percentage against Ponson since he joined the Giants. He is 1-1 with a 4.50 ERA in two career starts against Florida.

OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Marlins - Luis Castillo, .321 avg. and 83 runs; Mike Lowell, 32 HRs and 104 RBIs; Juan Pierre, 57 SBs. Giants - Bonds, .337 avg., 39 HRs, 79 RBIs and 91 runs; Marquis Grissom, 9 SBs.

SEASON SERIES: Giants, 3-0.

STREAKS AND NOTES: Marlins - OF Pierre is hitting .352 (12-for-34) over his last eight games. … Florida has lost four straight on the road for the first time since dropping six in a row from May 16-22. … Florida placed LHP Armando Almanza and OF Todd Hollandsworth on the 15-day DL Thursday. INF Lenny Harris and RHP Rick Helling will take their roster spots. Giants - OF Bonds is 103 homers behind all-time leader Hank Aaron (755). … After Thursday’s bullpen session, LHP Kirk Rueter is ready to return to the rotation and he will start Sunday’s finale. … RHP Jesse Foppert went on the 15-day DL Thursday with an inflamed nerve in his pitching arm.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Marlins - 29-33 on the road; Giants - 44-18 at home.

INJURIES: Marlins - LHP Almanza (shoulder), 15-day DL; OF Hollandsworth (back), 15-day DL; RHP Kevin Olsen (concussion), 15-day DL; LHP Tommy Phelps (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Tim Spooneybarger (arm), 15-day DL; RHP Toby Borland (appendix), 60-day DL; RHP A.J. Burnett (elbow), 60-day DL. Giants - LHP Rueter (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Foppert (arm), 15-day DL; C Alberto Castillo (wrist), 15-day DL; 2B Ray Durham (leg), 15-day DL; 1B J.T. Snow (groin), 15-day DL; OF Marvin Benard (knee), 15-day DL; RHP Robb Nen (shoulder), 15-day DL.

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Starting Pitchers

D. Willis Bal vs. S. Ponson KC
14-6 Record 17-12
3.30 ERA 3.75
142 K 134
58 BB 61
1.28 WHIP 1.26