As far as the Florida Marlins are concerned, the playoffs have already started.
The Marlins look to move closer to a spot in the actual postseason when they wrap up a four-game series with the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday at Dolphin Stadium.
The Marlins (71-71) beat the Phillies 4-3 in 10 innings on Saturday, moving to within 2 1/2 games of NL wild-card leader San Diego. The Padres lost 5-4 to the San Francisco Giants.
“I think this is the playoffs for us because we have to win,” Marlins manager Joe Girardi said.
Florida, which started the season 11-31, had dropped the first two games of this series after rookie starter Anibal Sanchez threw a no-hitter on Wednesday against Arizona.
Cody Ross singled in the winning run and Dan Uggla homered and drove in three runs for the Marlins on Saturday. Uggla’s 23 homers are second all-time for rookie second basemen behind Joe Gordon, who hit 24 for the Yankees in 1938.
The Phillies (72-70) are also battling for the NL wild card and remained 1 1/2 games behind the Padres with Saturday’s defeat. Chase Utley homered twice and Ryan Howard, who leads the majors with 56 homers and hit three in the first two games of this series, went 2-for-2 with four walks—two of them intentional.
Philadelphia left a season-high 17 runners on base, with Pat Burrell stranding nine of them.
“You know what, we have to knock somebody in—that’s the bottom line,” manager Charlie Manuel said.
Rookie Cole Hamels (7-7, 4.33 ERA) will start the series finale for Philadelphia. He squared off against Houston’s Roger Clemens on Monday and allowed two runs and three hits—including two homers—in eight innings of the Phillies’ 10-inning, 3-2 win.
The 22-year-old left-hander, who was coming off a 5-1 win at Washington on Aug. 30 in which he allowed one run in eight innings, retired the first 17 batters he faced.
Hamels made his only start against Florida on July 29, allowing three runs and six hits in 7 1-3 innings of a 12-3 victory. Dontrelle Willis (9-11, 3.93), who will start Sunday for the Marlins, gave up a season high-tying eight runs, six earned, and five hits in just 2 1-3 innings in that game and was charged with the loss.
The outing was his shortest since lasting just one inning against San Francisco on April 30, 2004.
“I don’t think that was him out there,” Howard said of Willis.
Willis allowed three runs in six innings of Tuesday’s 4-0 loss to Arizona. The left-hander, who had been 2-0 with a 2.14 ERA in his previous three starts, left the outing because of cramps.
“I was sweating a lot,” said Willis, who has pitched 192 1-3 innings this season. Usually, when it happens I’m able to pitch through it.”
Willis is 5-5 with a 4.03 ERA in 14 career starts versus the Phillies. However, he has lost his last four starts against them, earning a 9.26 ERA in those outings.