Florida is four games behind Houston and two in back of Philadelphia in the wild-card race after the Astros beat Pittsburgh 2-1, and the Phillies shut out Atlanta 4-0 in day games Thursday. All three teams have nine games to play.
“It’s not up to us anymore,” says Florida’s Jeff Conine, seeking his third playoff berth with Florida. “We have two teams in front of us now, so we have to scoreboard-watch.”
Willis allowed five hits over eight innings to run his record to 8-1 since Aug. 1. He walked two and struck out seven.
Willis and Beckett have been Florida’s most consistent pitchers down the stretch.
Beckett has been very good in September, going 3-0 with a 2.88 ERA in four starts. He’s second behind Willis on the team in wins with a 15-8 record and 3.51 ERA.
The Marlins have lost six of their last eight to put their playoff hopes in jeopardy.
“We’re going to need some luck,” Beckett said. “We have to have some people lose.”
Beckett will square off against Braves ace John Smoltz. Smoltz, who has been bothered by a stiff shoulder, is 2-2 with a 3.96 ERA over his last nine starts.
Atlanta got eight shutout innings from Tim Hudson on Thursday, but he ran into trouble in the ninth inning as the Braves suffered a 4-0 loss against Philadelphia.
The loss sliced Atlanta’s lead in the NL East to four games with nine to play. The Braves have lost two straight and three of four.