It’s been nearly two months since the Florida Marlins won a series - or even consecutive games - at home.
They’ll try to accomplish both of those feats when they conclude a three-game series with the Washington Nationals on Sunday at Dolphin Stadium.
Florida (43-48) owns the worst home record in the majors at 18-26, but beat the Nationals 5-2 on Saturday. It was just the sixth win in the last 20 home games for the Marlins.
“Any win is good, home or away,” said starter Sergio Mitre, who won his first game at Dolphin Stadium for Florida. “The ‘W’ is all that counts.”
Florida hit three home runs for the second straight game. Miguel Cabrera and Josh Willingham each hit two-run shots, while Jeremy Hermida added a solo homer. Cabrera’s home run was the 123rd of his career, moving him past Gary Sheffield into third place on the Marlins’ all-time list.
Cabrera’s 19 homers against the Nationals are his most versus any opponent. The Marlins are 12-4 when he goes deep against Washington.
Florida is now trying to win back-to-back home games for the first time since May 10 and 22. The May 22nd win came in the opener of a three-game set with Philadelphia, and the Marlins also won the finale to take that series.
They have dropped six straight home series since. However, Florida has won seven of its last nine home meetings with the Nationals (37-53).
The Marlins have won the last three home starts for Scott Olsen (6-7, 5.23 ERA), who will take the mound on Sunday. The left-hander is 4-2 with a 4.45 ERA in nine home games this season, but is trying to bounce back from the shortest outing of his career.
He allowed three runs and five hits in a 9-3 road defeat to the Los Angeles Dodgers on July 8, before leaving after one inning because of a stiff back. Olsen had the All-Star break to rest and threw a bullpen session on Thursday.
The 23-year-old, who has struggled with back problems in the past, also had massage treatments Thursday and Friday.
“They said I had a bunch of little knots,” Olsen told the Marlins’ official Web site. “I guess they were bigger than before.”
Washington will counter with Jason Simontacchi (6-6, 6.11), who is trying to win consecutive starts.
The right-hander allowed three runs and eight hits - including a season-high three homers - over six innings of a 5-4 victory over Milwaukee on July 7. He walked one and struck out five.
“He had the best stuff that he’s had the whole year, regardless of the three home runs,” manager Manny Acta told the Nationals’ official Web site. “I talked to (catcher Brian) Schneider about that. (Simontacchi) was throwing as hard as he has all year with a very sharp breaking ball.”
Despite that effort, Simontacchi has compiled a 9.50 ERA and a .372 opponent batting average over his last four starts. He has been at his best on the road this season, though, going 3-1 with a 3.46 ERA in four starts away from home.
Simontacchi is 1-0 with a 3.29 ERA in three career games versus the Marlins, including a 6-4 win on May 13.
Washington saw its three-game winning streak snapped Saturday, one day after recording 14 runs and 17 hits in a series-opening victory.