After a couple of rough outings by their pitching staff, the Florida Marlins look to build off one of their best efforts of the season on Wednesday when they continue a three-game series against the Cleveland Indians.
Florida (32-33) came into Tuesday’s game against the Indians (37-26) having allowed 24 runs in its past three contests, and its starters hadn’t made it past the sixth inning in nine of the last 10 games.
However, Scott Olsen turned in one of the best performances by a Marlins starter this year, outdueling Cleveland’s Fausto Carmona in a 3-0 win. Olsen allowed three hits in seven innings while striking out six, and Armando Benitez and Kevin Gregg finished up, with Gregg earning his 10th save in as many opportunities.
Carmona allowed three runs and five hits over seven innings for Cleveland, which fell into a first place tie with Detroit in the AL Central. After breezing through the first six innings, Carmona gave up a bases-clearing double to Miguel Olivo in the seventh.
“I was just looking for a sinker,” Olivo said, “and thank God I hit it.”
It was Florida’s third shutout of the year and the third time Cleveland had been blanked. The Indians also failed to score Sunday against Cincinnati.
Cleveland’s Grady Sizemore, who is batting .287 with 11 homers and 32 RBIs, was not in the starting lineup Tuesday, but came in to pinch-hit in the ninth. He is expected to start Wednesday after manager Eric Wedge said he wanted to give his center fielder the day off.
Cleveland averaged six runs per game during May - second best in the majors - but is scoring just 4.45 this month.
“If you look at the last 10 days, we’ve been in a little bit of an offensive funk,” Wedge said.
The Indians will try to avoid a season-high fourth straight loss Wednesday as they hand the ball to Cliff Lee (2-4, 6.31 ERA), who is looking to avoid his fifth consecutive defeat.
The left-hander hasn’t recorded a win since May 18 against the Reds. He lost to Cincinnati on Friday, allowing four runs and four hits - including three homers - in six innings of a 4-3 defeat.
Lee has a 9.15 ERA over his last four starts, but Wedge said he saw improvement in Friday’s start.
“He threw the ball a lot better,” the manager told Cleveland’s official Web site. “He used all his pitches. That’s the Cliff Lee we need.”
Lee has made only one start against the Marlins, lasting six innings during Cleveland’s 7-5 loss on June 8, 2004. He did not receive a decision after allowing three runs and seven hits.
Florida will counter with Byung-Hyun Kim (3-2, 5.74), who is coming off one of his worst starts this year. He allowed seven runs and seven hits in 2 2-3 innings, but Florida rallied to beat Tampa Bay 14-8 on Friday.
Kim is 0-1 with a 6.97 ERA in six appearances - two starts - against the Indians. He has not faced them since 2004.
Cleveland is 2-6 all-time at Dolphin Stadium, including a 3-2 loss in 11 innings in Game 7 of the 1997 World Series.