MORTON GROVE, Ill. (AP)—Apparently it doesn’t matter who’s guiding the Florida Marlins as long as they keep winning.
The Marlins are not expected to have manager Joe Girardi on the bench for the second night in a row, but they look for a franchise-record 10th straight win when they continue their series with the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday.
Girardi missed the Marlins’ 9-1 victory Tuesday as he returned to the Miami area to be with his pregnant wife and prepare for the possibility of Tropical Storm Ernesto becoming a hurricane. He plans on rejoining the team either late Wednesday or in time for the series finale on Thursday.
Bench coach Gary Tuck managed the team in Girardi’s absence, and Florida (65-66) responded by routing the NL Central leaders. Scott Olsen and Brian Moehler combined on a four-hitter, and Dan Uggla had three hits including a homer and four RBIs.
“It’s fun for me, but it’s tough without Joe,” Tuck said. “Joe loves these kids and he’s got them where they are now.”
It’s the fourth time in franchise history the Marlins have won nine in a row and the second time this season, the last coming June 10-20. No other team has had two nine-game winning streaks in the same season since St. Louis, Oakland, Seattle and Arizona in 2001.
“We beat the Nationals and we beat Milwaukee, but this was a test for us, to play a division-leading team,” said Wes Helms, who tied a season-high with three hits. “We did our job.”
The Marlins, who have outscored their opponents 53-29 during their current streak, can reach the .500 mark for the first time since the second game of the season with a win.
Despite the lowest payroll in the major leagues and a rookie-laden lineup, Florida is just 1 1/2 games behind San Diego for the NL wild card with 31 games to play.
To try and secure the franchise’s longest win streak, rookie Ricky Nolasco (11-8, 4.45 ERA) looks to continue his recent road success. After going 0-4 with 10.61 ERA in four road starts from June 9-July 8, the right-hander has a 2.14 ERA while winning three consecutive starts away from Dolphin Stadium.
He’ll try to rebound from a poor outing at home Friday in which he gave up five runs and seven hits in two innings before leaving with leg cramps. He did not get a decision after Florida rallied for a 6-5 win.
In his only career appearance against the Cardinals, Nolasco yielded two hits in 2 1-3 innings of relief as the Marlins lost 9-1 on May 7.
The Cardinals failed to win four in a row for the first time since July 19-23. St. Louis is just 13-20 since that winning streak, but still holds a 3 1/2 -game lead over second-place Cincinnati in the NL Central.
The inconsistent right-hander has failed to post back-to-back wins since winning five in a row from May 13-June 4.
He is coming off a loss, having given up five runs, seven hits and four walks over six innings as the Cardinals were swept by the NL East-leading New York Mets 6-2 on Thursday.
“Obviously, you don’t want to get swept anytime,” Marquis said. “Your goal is to win series. We haven’t put ourselves in a great position. We have to go out there and push hard.”
Marquis. who is making his first start of the season against Florida, is 3-3 with a 6.08 ERA in 14 appearances, including seven starts, against the Marlins.