After they were stifled by one of the NL’s top pitchers, the Florida Marlins head into a matchup against another ace.
Florida (14-16) was batting .289 as a team over its last 13 games before facing San Diego’s Jake Peavy on Sunday. The Marlins managed only two hits in a 3-1 loss, their third in four games after winning seven of 10.
Dan Uggla had both hits, improving his home batting average to .284, compared to .167 on the road. The Marlins, though, struck out 11 times and have 40 strikeouts in their last four games.
Mike Jacobs, who fanned three times in four at-bats, ranked Peavy’s performance among the best he’s seen this season.
“That’s definitely right up there. Maybe him and (Houston’s Roy) Oswalt were probably the best two guys we’ve faced this year,” Jacobs told the Marlins’ official Web site.
The Marlins next face Penny (3-0, 1.64 ERA), who started his career with Florida in 2000 and was a member of their 2003 championship team. Penny is second in the NL in ERA and has not allowed a home run in 38 1-3 innings.
Penny, though, has struggled against his former club. He’s 0-1 with an 8.18 ERA in two starts since the Marlins traded him to the Dodgers in July 2004. He didn’t get a decision despite holding Arizona to three hits in six shutout innings of Los Angeles’ 2-1 win on Tuesday.
The Dodgers (18-13) have lost two of three to start a seven-game road trip. They took a three-run lead in the seventh inning on Sunday, but reliever Chin-hui Tsao was tagged for five runs in the bottom of the frame en route to a 6-4 loss in Atlanta.
“It’s always tough to let one slip away at the end of the game,” Dodgers manager Grady Little told the team’s official Web site. “We’ve gotten spoiled this season with the bullpen. They’ve been lights-out every time. Tonight showed we’re human out there.”
Wilson Betemit, a former Brave who had been benched recently by Little, had has second pinch homer in as many games to raise his batting average 30 points to .155.
After a solid start in his return from the disabled list, Ricky Nolasco (1-0, 5.68) takes the mound for Florida. Nolasco, who missed nearly a month with right elbow inflammation, gave up a run and six hits with five striekouts and no walks over five innings of a 5-2 win over the New York Mets on Tuesday.
“It’s tough watching the guys winning and playing good baseball, and you can’t contribute to that,” Nolasco said. “But at the same time, I took it as ‘everything happens for a reason.’ I took my time and made sure that everything was all right.”
He will be making his first career start against the Dodgers, who won five of six meetings with the Marlins last year, including all three games in Florida.
Florida’s Miguel Cabrera is batting .419 (18-for-43) with two homers over his last 11 games, and both of his career hits against Penny are home runs.
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