They hope streaking Carl Pavano can lead them to another and into the top spot in the NL wild-card race as the Marlins and Pirates conclude their three-game series at Pro Player Stadium.
The Marlins snapped a four-game losing streak against the Pirates with Wednesday’s 3-0 win. They remained tied with Philadelphia in the race for the wild card. The Phillies beat the Montreal Expos 8-3 on Wednesday.
“I was checking our record, we play better against the winning clubs than the losing clubs,” said Florida manager Jack McKeon, referring to his team’s struggles against Pittsburgh, which has been out of the playoff races for months.
McKeon will send a pitcher in Pavano to the mound who gives the Marlins an excellent chance to win the series. In his last start, the right-hander outdueled red-hot Livan Hernandez as the Marlins topped the Expos 4-3 on Saturday.
Pavano gave up just two earned runs and six hits while striking out a career-high 10 in eight innings for his second straight victory and fifth in six decisions.
Over his last eight starts, Pavano is 5-1 with a 3.61 ERA, with the Marlins winning seven of those outings. Florida is 6-0 in his last six starts at Pro Player.
The Marlins, who have won five of their last six, got five doubles, and Josh Beckett allowed just three hits over 7 2-3 innings in Wednesday’s win.
“We won, and that’s what matters right now,” Beckett said. “We have to keep pace or pass the pace. I’m happy. We just want to keep rolling.”
To do so, the Marlins will have to rely on their pitching because coming into Wednesday they ranked a mediocre seventh in the NL with 635 runs, averaging just four in their last five wins.
“We’re not a high-powered machine that gets eight or 10 runs every night,” McKeon said. “We eke out some runs.”
The Marlins will have to be wary of Jason Kendall. The Pirates’ catcher went 1-for-4 Wednesday, is batting .579 (11-for-19) against Florida this season.
Pittsburgh has lost three of four following a four-game winning streak.
STANDINGS: Pirates - 4th place, 8 1/2 GB, NL Central. Marlins - 2nd place (tied), 12 GB, NL East.
PIRATES PROBABLE STARTER: Salomon Torres (5-3, 4.39 ERA). Torres gave up two earned runs and seven hits in five innings of Pittsburgh’s 6-5 win over the Atlanta Braves on Friday, but did not receive a decision. The right-hander, who has made 11 starts this season, is 2-1 with a 6.23 ERA in five career appearances, including four starts, against the Marlins.
MARLINS PROBABLE STARTER: Pavano (11-11, 4.17 ERA). Pavano is 3-3 with a 6.25 ERA in seven career starts against the Pirates.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Pirates - Kendall, .323 avg. and 75 runs; Reggie Sanders, 29 HRs, 75 RBIs and 11 SBs. Marlins - Luis Castillo, .324 avg. and 88 runs; Mike Lowell, 32 HRs and 105 RBIs; Juan Pierre, 58 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Pirates, 4-1.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Pirates - The Pirates have an extra-base hit in a season-high 39 straight games. … On Wednesday, C Kendall made his 1,037th appearance behind the plate, tying Manny Sanguillen for second place on the team’s all-time list. George Gibson (1,113) holds the club record. …. RHP Torres is 2-0 with a 4.63 ERA in 19 road appearances, including five starts, this season. Marlins - RHP Ugueth Urbina earned his 28th save of the season Wednesday and second for the Marlins. … 3B Miguel Cabrera is in a 1-for-33 slump. … SS Alex Gonzalez snapped an 0-for-23 slump Wednesday with a fifth-inning double.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Pirates - 31-35 on the road; Marlins - 45-26 at home.
INJURIES: Pirates - INF Pat Meares (hand), 60-day DL; INF Pokey Reese (thumb), 60-day DL; RHP Kris Benson (shoulder), 60-day DL; LHP Dave Williams (shoulder), 60-day DL. Marlins - 3B Lowell (thumb), 15-day DL; LHP Armando Almanza (shoulder), 60-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.