Miami (79-75) at Atlanta (91-64)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Atlanta, GA
Temp: 88° F
  • Game info: 1:05 pm EDT Sun Sep 26, 2004
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Florida Marlins’ chance to defend their World Series title has all but vanished.

The Marlins will try to stave off their official elimination from the playoff race when they conclude a three-game series against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field.

With eight games remaining in the regular season, the Marlins are eight games behind the Chicago Cubs in the NL wild-card race. A Florida loss, or win by the Cubs will end the Marlins’ wild-card chances. They were eliminated from the NL East race on Friday.

The Braves, who have secured their record 13th consecutive division title, will look to use the final week of the season to prepare for the playoffs.

Mike Hampton pitched seven scoreless innings Saturday in his first start since Sept. 11, and Dewayne Wise hit a solo homer in the seventh to give the Braves a 1-0 win.

“I said it would be won by a home run,” Florida manager Jack McKeon said. “A home run always wins that kind of game. I didn’t think it would be Wise.”

Hampton, who will need surgery in the offseason to repair torn cartilage in his left knee, is hoping to stay healthy enough to pitch in the playoffs.

“I could definitely tell it’s not 100 percent,” Hampton said. “But I made a concentrated effort not to change anything. I just wanted to go out there and pitch, put the knee out of my mind.”

As the Braves try to complete the three-game sweep, John Thomson will look for his fourth straight win.

Thomson has allowed just two earned runs over 20 innings during his three-start winning streak. He surrendered one run and five hits over seven innings Tuesday in a 5-4 win over the Cincinnati Reds.

The 30-year-old right-hander, who is in his first season with Atlanta, is 7-1 with a 2.54 ERA over his last 14 starts.

“He’s nasty when he has to be,” Braves closer John Smoltz said of Thomson. “I’m proud of him. He’s never been through anything like this.”

The Marlins, who have lost a season-high five straight, fell a game behind the second-place Philadelphia Phillies in the NL East.

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Starting Pitchers

D. Willis Bal vs. J. Thomson KC
10-11 Record 14-8
4.02 ERA 3.72
139 K 133
61 BB 52
1.38 WHIP 1.32