After dropping 10 of 14 games, Pittsburgh (17-20) has bounced back with consecutive wins for the first time since a five-game run April 22-27. The Pirates beat Florida 7-0 in Monday’s series opener following a 13-2 victory over Atlanta on Sunday.
Freddy Sanchez went 4-for-5 with two RBIs on Monday, and is batting .478 (11-for-23) over the last five games. The defending NL batting champion has boosted his batting average from .240 to .283 during that stretch.
Sanchez has helped the Pirates total 29 hits over the last two contests and raise their team batting average nine points to .244. Pittsburgh’s pitching staff has been equally impressive, allowing just two runs and a .200 opponent batting average in the last two games.
Paul Maholm (2-4, 5.40 ERA) tries to continue the impressive pitching when he takes the ball for Pittsburgh on Tuesday.
The left-hander is looking for back-to-back wins for the first time this season after pitching 7 1-3 innings in a 6-4 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Thursday. He allowed four runs and seven hits, including a season-high three homers, while walking one and striking out four.
“My rhythm was much better,” said Maholm, who threw 60 of his 86 pitches for strikes. “Everything was in the zone, all four pitches were in the zone. A couple of the home runs were me just challenging them and they got the good part of the bat on it.”
Maholm lost his only career start against the Marlins, 4-1 on July 21 of last season, when he gave up four runs - two earned - and five hits over six innings. He’ll face a Florida club that has dropped four straight games, getting outscored 26-7 and shut out twice in that span.
The Marlins (16-22), who have also lost eight of their last 10, are six games below .500 for the first time this season.
“We’re just not showing up as a whole, offensively, defensively, whatever you want to call it,” said Marlins starter Dontrelle Willis, who lost his second straight start Monday. “We’re not showing up to play. Hopefully this is a wakeup call for us and, hopefully, tomorrow we’re able to go out and compete again.
“You’ve got to have that swagger, and it’s kind of left us right now.”
Sergio Mitre (0-2, 2.13) tries to help the Marlins regain some confidence when he takes the mound Tuesday. The right-hander threw a season-high eight innings and allowed just three hits against the Dodgers on Thursday, but didn’t earn a decision in a game the Marlins won 3-0 on Josh Willingham’s three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth.
Mitre has received just seven total runs of support during his five starts, and has not received a decision in his last three outings. The right-hander is still seeking his first win since April 4, 2006.
He is 1-1 with a 3.52 ERA in six career games versus Pittsburgh.
Florida leadoff batter Hanley Ramirez went 2-for-4 Monday to boost his career average to .400 (12-for-30) against the Pirates.