Dontrelle Willis hasn’t had many chances this season to rebound from bad starts. Sunday will be a rare exception.
Willis entered his last start against Atlanta on Tuesday with a 19-inning scoreless streak after pitching a five-hitter in an 8-0 victory over the Braves at home on June 23.
His second straight appearance against the Braves, however, didn’t go nearly as well as he allowed two runs in the first inning and fell behind 4-0 by the fourth. Willis gave up season highs of five runs and 11 hits in seven innings, raising his ERA from 1.76 to 2.04.
“I gave up a lot early and once we fell in the hole, that guy over there, (Jorge) Sosa, he threw the ball well,” Willis said.
Willis shouldn’t mind facing the Mets for the second time this season despite taking the loss against them at home on May 28.
In that game, he surrendered two runs, eight hits and three walks in six innings in a 6-1 defeat. He had been 5-0 with a 2.31 ERA in his first seven starts against New York.
After dropping Friday’s series opener, 7-6, the Marlins rebounded for a 7-3 victory Saturday.
Juan Encarnacion went 4-for-4 with three RBIs, leading Florida to its third win in four games overall and fifth in six road contests.
Encarnacion, batting .625 (10-for-16) in his last four games, has reached base in each of his last 10 plate appearances, matching the franchise record set by Derrek Lee on September 25-26, 2002.
“I’ve seen him do this before,” said Florida’s Brian Moehler, Saturday’s winning pitcher. “When he’s going good, he goes the other way.”
Carlos Beltran drove in two runs for the Mets, who need a victory Sunday to win their fourth consecutive series.
Opposing Willis will be Victor Zambrano, one of New York’s most consistent starters of late.
The right-hander has pitched well despite winning only two of his last eight starts. He has allowed two earned runs or fewer in six of those appearances while yielding three each in the other two.
Zambrano limited Philadelphia to one run and four hits over five innings in an 8-3 victory Tuesday.