Florida starter A.J. Burnett had been breezing through the second half of the season before his last two starts.
He’ll look to shake off a pair of rough outings as the Marlins go for a three-game sweep of the suddenly stumbling New York Mets.
Burnett allowed six runs and six hits over five innings in Monday’s 6-1 loss to St. Louis. The 28-year-old right-hander gave up a season-high six walks, including four that led to runs.
“When you give up too many bases on balls, it’s going to hurt you, and he didn’t have his best stuff tonight,” manager Jack McKeon said.
Burnett, who threw 95 pitches, was coming off a 6-4 loss to Milwaukee on Aug. 24 in which he gave up six runs—two earned—and seven hits over six innings. Before that outing, he had won seven consecutive starts.
Burnett went 7-1 with a 1.29 ERA between July 19 and Aug. 19. Monday’s outing was his shortest since he gave up six runs over five innings in a 13-7 loss at Philadelphia on July 14.
“They say the most important pitch is strike one,” catcher Matt Treanor said. “He struggled with strikes early in the count and got behind.”
The Marlins have split their last six games after beating the Mets 5-4 on Saturday. Miguel Cabrera hit a three-run double with two outs in the seventh inning to cap the comeback and give McKeon his 1,000th major league win.
Florida is a half-game behind NL wild-card leader Philadelphia and 5 1/2 back of NL East-leading Atlanta.
The Mets, who have lost four straight and six of seven, trail the Phillies by 3 1/2 games.
“No matter how bleak things look, in this clubhouse we’re going to stay positive and keep playing,” New York manager Willie Randolph said. “Things can change around.”
Right-hander Jae Seo will try to help the Mets salvage the finale.
Seo is coming off his first rough outing of the season. The South Korean right-hander had allowed just seven earned runs in his first 48 1-3 innings before giving up four runs and 10 hits over five innings and leaving without a decision in the Mets’ 6-4 win over the Phillies on Tuesday.