Washington (39-63) at Miami (52-50)

Fair Currently: Miami Gardens, FL
Temp: 76° F
  • Game info: 7:35 pm EDT Fri Jul 30, 2004
  • TV: SCOR, FSFL
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Josh Beckett and Livan Hernandez were both instrumental in the Florida Marlins’ two World Series championships.

The right-handers will square off when the Marlins open a three-game series with the Montreal Expos at Pro Player Stadium.

Beckett will make his first start since coming off the disabled list due to chronic blisters on his pitching hand. Much was expected of the hard-throwing righty this season after he dominated opposing batters en route to leading Florida through the playoffs and earning the World Series MVP in a six-game upset of the New York Yankees.

However, the 24-year-old Beckett has struggled to stay healthy, making three trips to the DL already this year, including twice for blisters on his right middle finger.

Beckett, who has made only two starts since May 30, threw 50 pitches in the bullpen and 58 more during a simulated game Sunday without incident.

“Everything was good today, but we’ve done this before—it’s been OK and I go out and pitch and it blows up again,” said Beckett. “There’s nothing wrong with it. Right now, we have to play it by ear.”

The Marlins need Beckett back on the mound if they hope to catch Atlanta in the NL East. Florida and Philadelphia both trail the Braves by 3 1/2 games in the division.

Alex Gonzalez hit the first grand slam of his career, Dontrelle Willis pitched seven innings and Florida won 10-1 Thursday to sweep Philadelphia at home for the fourth time in a row.

The Marlins are 11-1 against the Phillies this season and have won 23 of the past 26 games dating to last year.

“We’re gaining some momentum,” Florida manager Jack McKeon said. “Now we need the Braves to start losing some games.”

The Expos have won six of eight, including a three-game sweep of the Marlins in Montreal last weekend.

Hernandez was the NL championship series and World Series MVP as a rookie for Florida during its first title run back in 1997, but was traded to San Francisco in 1999. The Cuban right-hander has pitched well against his former club, going 7-3 with four complete games and a 2.66 ERA in 13 starts.

He will try to get the Expos back on track after a 10-1 loss to the New York Mets on Thursday. Montreal managed only three hits against Mets starter Al Leiter and finished the game with six.

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Starting Pitchers

L. Hernandez Mil vs. J. Beckett LAD
11-15 Record 9-9
3.60 ERA 3.79
186 K 152
83 BB 54
1.24 WHIP 1.22