Burnett and Byrd square off as the Marlins and Braves continue their four-game series.
Burnett underwent reconstructive elbow surgery in April 2003 and did not return until June 3, when he allowed two earned runs and five hits in four innings in a 4-1 loss to the New York Mets.
The right-hander, who won a career-high 12 games in 2001, has allowed two or fewer runs in four of his five starts this season, but is getting only 0.86 runs of support per nine innings.
“I feel better each time out,” said Burnett, who tossed a no-hitter on May 12, 2001. “I’m getting more comfortable. I’m tweaking my delivery, and I feel like I’m getting better and better each time out there.”
Burnett allowed two runs and three hits in eight innings of Friday’s 2-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, the 10th complete game of his career. Burnett, who threw just 89 pitches, including 61 strikes, retired 14 straight at one point, but was outdueled by Dewon Brazelton, who took a no-hitter into the eighth inning.
“I think that’s three starts in a row for him that he was great, but we don’t get him any runs,” Marlins third baseman Mike Lowell said. “I think it’s encouraging again that it looks like he’s in top shape.”
Burnett has not won in the majors since Aug. 18, 2002, going 0-5 in 13 appearances, including 11 starts, since then—the longest winless stretch of his career.
Byrd has had better luck since returning to the mound. The right-hander, who underwent elbow surgery on July 1, 2003 after signing a two-year, $10 million deal in Dec. 2002, pitched seven innings in a 4-0 win over the Cleveland Indians on June 19 for his first victory since Sept. 19, 2002.
However, he was charged with the loss Friday, when he gave up three earned runs and six hits in 6 1-3 innings in a 5-0 defeat to the Baltimore Orioles.
“I’m here to help us win and turn it around,” Byrd said. “Tonight, I had to go out there and not give up any runs. That’s just the fact of the matter. I didn’t do it. So it’s disappointing.”
The Marlins beat the Braves 5-4 on Tuesday, snapping Atlanta’s three-game winning streak. Eli Marrero homered and went 3-for-4 for the Braves.