Philadelphia (79-69) at Florida (78-70)

Cloudy Currently: Miami Gardens, FL, US
Temp: 72° F
  • Game info: 1:15 pm EDT Sat Sep 17, 2005
  • TV: FOX
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Dontrelle Willis is having the greatest season by any pitcher in Florida Marlins history, has a batting average higher than his ERA and is locked in a tight battle with St. Louis’ Chris Carpenter for the NL Cy Young Award.

But believe it or not, the left-hander isn’t satisfied with his overall game.

“I continue to hurt my team with my bunting,” he said. “I’m definitely going to work on that in the offseason.”

Willis will try to pitch the Marlins closer to the playoffs when they continue a critical three-game series with the visiting Philadelphia Phillies.

While Willis’ inability to sacrifice is hardly a blemish on his career year, the energetic southpaw was quite serious about his lack of bunting skills following an 8-2 win at Houston on Monday. Willis allowed eight hits, struck out four and walked one en route to tying Carpenter for the major league lead in wins with 21 and complete games with seven.

Willis also hit his third career home run in the win, a two-run shot that upped his RBI total for the season to 11. He’s batting .259 this year, and has a 2.49 ERA.

Willis has already shattered the franchise record for wins in a season, set by Carl Pavano with 18 last year.

“He’s a complete guy,” Florida manager Jack McKeon said. “He hits, he fields, he pitches. With him in the lineup, it’s like an extra bat.”

McKeon was asked if there is anything Willis can’t do.

“He probably is going to have to work on covering second base,” McKeon said with a smile. “He’s a gamer. He’s a competitor. You almost expect him to go out and have a game like this every time. It’s a surprise if it doesn’t happen.”

One of Willis’ main goals on Saturday will be to shut down the Phillies’ Jimmy Rollins. The All-Star shortstop extended his career-high hitting streak to 22 games with a two-run homer on Friday in the Philadelphia’s 13-3 win.

The Phillies, who are starting a nine-game road trip, won for the fifth time in six games. They remained a half-game behind NL wild card leader Houston. The Marlins fell 1 1/2 games back with their third loss in a row.

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Starting Pitchers

V. Padilla BOS vs. D. Willis MIL
9-12 Record 22-10
4.71 ERA 2.63
103 K 170
74 BB 55
1.50 WHIP 1.13