Miami (65-67) at St. Louis (70-61)

Fair Currently: St. Louis, MO
Temp: 52° F
  • Game info: 8:10 pm EDT Thu Aug 31, 2006
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MORTON GROVE, Ill. (AP)—The Florida Marlins fell one game shy of the longest winning streak in team history. They may have also lost All-Star third baseman Miguel Cabrera for a while.

The Marlins look to bounce back and win a series over the St. Louis Cardinals for the first time in more than three years when the teams conclude their three-game set at Busch Stadium on Thursday.

The Cardinals (70-61) tied a franchise record with eight doubles and had a season-high 20 hits Wednesday as they ended Florida’s nine-game run with a 13-6 victory. The Marlins were trying to better their franchise-best streak set June 10-20.

Florida (65-67) also missed a chance to reach the .500 mark after starting the season 11-31. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, no team since 1900 has gotten to .500 after falling 20 games below.

Florida may be without Cabrera in the series finale after he was hit by a pitch in the third inning and left with a bruised left forearm. The three-time All-Star is batting .338 with 23 homers and 98 RBIs and has played in all but one of Florida’s games this season.

“He’s day-to-day,” said Marlins manager Joe Girardi, who returned to the team after spending Tuesday night at home with his pregnant wife while bracing for a possible hurricane. “They did an X-ray and said it was a contusion. He’s got some swelling in there. We’ll see how he is tomorrow.”

Hanley Ramirez went 3-for-5 with two doubles and two runs Wednesday, and he’s batting .522 (12-for-23) with five doubles and two triples in five games against the Cardinals this season. Ramirez scored his 100th run in the first inning, becoming the eighth rookie since 1900 to score 100 runs and steal 40 bases.

The Marlins are 2 1/2 games behind San Diego for the wild card after being 6 1/2 back on Aug. 19.

Florida has lost 13 of its last 19 games to St. Louis and has not defeated the Cardinals in a series since winning two of three Aug. 5-7, 2003.

Dontrelle Willis (9-10, 4.01 ERA) will try to bring the Marlins another series victory over St. Louis as he looks to continue his solid pitching Thursday. The left-hander will be attempting to win his third straight start for the first time this season.

Willis won for just the third time in his last nine outings Saturday, allowing two runs and seven hits in seven innings of a 7-2 victory over Milwaukee. He’s lasted seven innings and given up two earned runs in each of his previous two starts.

“He becomes real important,” Girardi said. “He’s pitched in the World Series. He’s pitched in championship series. He’s won 20 games. So, obviously, we like when he’s on the mound.”

The left-hander is 1-2 with a 5.09 ERA in three career starts against the Cardinals, and lost his only game against them this season, giving up seven runs and a season-high 12 hits in 4 2-3 innings of a 7-6 defeat May 6.

St. Louis has won four of its last five and has a four-game lead over Cincinnati in the NL Central.

Albert Pujols hit his 39th homer Wednesday and Scott Rolen had three doubles and an RBI.

Jeff Suppan (10-7, 4.77) takes the ball for the Cardinals on Thursday and will look to build on one of his best starts of the season. The right-hander allowed five hits in 7 2-3 innings of a 2-0 win over the Chicago Cubs on Friday.

“My focus is on the in-game picture, the pre-pitch routine and picking the right pitches to throw,” Suppan said. “Every game is obviously important. I just have to focus and do what I have to do in that game.”

Suppan went 6-5 with a 5.83 ERA in 17 starts before the All-Star break, but is 4-2 with a 2.72 ERA in eight starts since. He has allowed one run or fewer in five of those outings.

The right-hander is 6-2 with a 3.04 ERA in 13 starts at Busch Stadium this season, and has allowed one run in 15 innings over his last two home starts— both wins.

Suppan is 3-2 with a 3.28 ERA in eight games against the Marlins. He held them to two runs and five hits in 8 1-3 innings of a 7-2 win May 5.

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Starting Pitchers

D. Willis Bal vs. J. Suppan SD
12-12 Record 12-7
3.87 ERA 4.12
160 K 104
83 BB 69
1.42 WHIP 1.45

Scoreboard

Thursday, Aug 31