The Chicago Cubs are not making things easy on themselves in an attempt to win their first division title in four years.
The Cubs look to move closer to accomplishing that feat while avoid being swept again by the Florida Marlins as the teams finish their three-game set Thursday afternoon at Dolphin Stadium.
Chicago (83-75) lost 7-4 to the Marlins on Wednesday to drop the first two games of the series after winning four straight.
The Cubs, though, remained two games ahead of second-place Milwaukee in the NL Central after the Brewers lost 7-3 to St. Louis on Wednesday. Chicago’s magic number dropped to three with four games remaining.
Trying to decrease that number further might be tough for Chicago, which looks to avoid a 10th straight loss to the lowly Marlins (68-90) dating to a 3-1 win on April 25, 2006.
“We haven’t had success against this team,” Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. “They’ve got our number. They feel nice and comfortable against the Cubbies.
“We’ll beat these guys tomorrow, and go from there. We’ve got to play better than that if we want to go forward.”
After scoring 30 runs and hitting 10 homers in a three-game home sweep of Pittsburgh last weekend, the Cubs have scored six runs, hit two home runs and are batting .190 against the last-place Marlins.
“Maybe we’re pressing a little bit,” said Mark DeRosa, who committed a key throwing error in the Marlins’ three-run second inning Wednesday. “I’d like to think we’re not playing tight, but maybe there are some circumstances where we are. We have to realize we’re still in first place.”
Chicago will turn to Steve Trachsel (1-2, 7.62 ERA) to help get the club get back on track Thursday when he makes his first start since Sept. 13.
It will be Trachsel’s fourth start since being traded from Baltimore in early August, but first since the Cubs went to a four-man rotation. The right-hander allowed two runs and seven hits in five innings in a 6-3 win at Houston for his first victory with the Cubs since Sept. 28, 1999.
Trachsel is 10-12 with a 3.78 ERA in 29 starts against the Marlins.
Florida will counter with the troubled Scott Olsen (9-15, 5.88), who looks to avoid a seventh straight loss. He is 0-6 with a 7.45 ERA in his last eight starts since his last win on Aug. 5.
Olsen, who was charged with driving under the influence in July, was a hard-luck loser in a 9-6 defeat to the New York Mets on Friday. Olsen left after allowing seven hits and no earned runs in five innings as Florida committed six errors.
“The errors, they are part of the game,” Olsen told the team’s official Web site. “If you look at it, though, even after the errors, I’m still one pitch (away from) getting out of it in every inning. That’s my fault.”
The left-hander, who attended high school in northwest suburban Chicago, has a 3.94 ERA and no record in three starts against the Cubs.
Hermida is batting .571 (8-for-14) with six RBIs in his last three games.