Livan Hernandez hopes to help the Montreal Expos regain a share of first place in the National League wild card standings as they continue their three-game series with the Florida Marlins at Pro Player Stadium.
Hernandez, who started his major league career in Florida in 1996 and was the NLCS and World Series MVP when the Marlins won the World Series in ’97, hasn’t lost since July 29 against St. Louis.
The Expos’ ace is 4-0 with a 0.88 ERA over his last five starts.
Hernandez has recorded three of his NL-leading nine complete games during that stretch, including an eight-hitter in a 12-1 home victory over Philadelphia on Monday. The Cuban right-hander walked one and struck out nine.
He is 5-2 all-time against the Marlins with a 2.45 ERA in nine starts. This season, he is 2-1 with a 2.25 ERA in three starts against Florida.
The Expos had their five-game winning streak snapped in the opener on Friday, 3-2.
Brad Wilkerson led off the game with a homer for Montreal, which fell one game behind Philadelphia and Florida in the race for the wild card.
The Marlins, who won for just the second time in 10 games, will send Carl Pavano to the mound on Saturday.
The 27-year-old right-hander is 4-1 over his last seven starts, allowing two runs or fewer five times.
Pavano, who spent his first 4 1/2 seasons in Montreal before being traded on July 11, 2002, is 3-1 lifetime against his former team with a 2.40 ERA in nine games, including five starts.
STANDINGS: Expos - 4th place, 15 GB, NL East. Marlins - 2nd place (tied), 14 GB, NL East.
EXPOS PROBABLE STARTER: Hernandez (14-7, 2.88 ERA). Hernandez hasn’t surrendered a homer in his last 37 innings, spanning four starts.
MARLINS PROBABLE STARTER: Pavano (10-11, 4.26 ERA). Pavano was a 7-4 winner at San Francisco on Sunday, giving up two runs and seven hits over seven innings. In three starts against Montreal this season, he is 2-1 with a 2.63 ERA.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Expos - Jose Vidro, .323 avg.; Vladimir Guerrero, 20 HRs; Orlando Cabrera, 70 RBIs, 87 runs and 21 SBs. Marlins - Luis Castillo, .322 avg. and 85 runs; Mike Lowell, 32 HRs and 105 RBIs; Juan Pierre, 57 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Marlins, 8-5.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Expos - LF Wilkerson’s leadoff home run Friday was the third of his career and the third for the Expos this season. CF Endy Chavez had the other two and Wilkerson had two last season. … SS Cabrera is batting .417 (10-for-24) during a six-game hitting streak. … C Michael Barrett, recovering from an injured middle finger on his left hand, is at home in Atlanta and is expected to rejoin the team in Puerto Rico on Sept. 5. Marlins - C Ivan Rodriguez is 0-for-13 over his last four games. … 3B Lowell is batting .136 (6-for-44) over his last 11 games. … RF Juan Encarnacion is batting .389 (7-for-18) in his career against RHP Hernandez with a homer and four RBIs.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Expos - 25-41 on the road; Marlins - 40-25 at home.
INJURIES: Expos - C Barrett (hip), 15-day DL; 3B Fernando Tatis (chest), 15-day DL; RHP Orlando Hernandez (shoulder), 15-day DL; LHP Scott Stewart (appendicitis), 15-day DL; RHP Claudio Vargas (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Tony Armas Jr. (shoulder), 60-day DL; RHP Dan Smith (shoulder), 60-day DL. Marlins - OF Todd Hollandsworth (back), 15-day DL; LHP Armando Almanza (shoulder), 15-day DL; LHP Tommy Phelps (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Toby Borland (appendix), 60-day DL; RHP A.J. Burnett (elbow), 60-day DL; RHP Kevin Olsen (concussion), 60-day DL; RHP Tim Spooneybarger (arm), 60-day DL.