In a matchup of the two of the hottest pitchers in the majors, the Marlins and Dodgers look to at least keep pace in their respective division races when the teams continue their four-game series Saturday night.
Thanks partly to Nolasco’s pitching, Florida (49-44) is 1 1/2 games behind NL East-leading Philadelphia. The Marlins beat the Dodgers (45-48) 3-1 on Friday to keep pace with the Phillies for the second straight night. They beat Los Angeles 5-4 on Thursday night in this series’ opener.
Florida has been inconsistent in recent months, but has won eight of Nolasco’s last nine starts. Nolasco (10-4, 3.74 ERA) is 5-0 with a 1.81 ERA in his last six outings.
In his last start, the right-hander gave up one run and five hits while striking out seven in eight innings to earn a win as Florida beat San Diego 3-1 on Monday night.
Nolasco struggled in his only career start against the Dodgers, allowing six runs and 10 hits in six innings in a 6-1 Marlins loss on May 7, 2007.
Kuroda (5-6, 3.39 ERA) faced the Marlins for the first time on May 1, giving up three runs and five hits in seven innings without receiving a decision in a 5-3 Dodgers victory. He had a sore right shoulder that put him on the disabled list until July 2, but he has been dominant in two starts since. The rookie has not allowed a run in those games, a stretch spanning 16 innings.
The right-hander took a perfect game into the eighth inning Monday night, but settled for a one-hitter in Los Angeles’ 3-0 win over Atlanta. He struck out six and did not walk a batter.
“Since he’s come off the disabled list he’s been doing really good,” Dodgers manager Joe Torre told the team’s official Web site. “Hopefully he has the same kind of stuff (against Florida).”
Kuroda has helped put Los Angeles in position to compete in the mediocre NL West. The Dodgers are one-half game behind first-place Arizona.
Kuroda has given up four home runs in his last nine starts, spanning 57 1-3 innings, but he will be facing the top power-hitting team in the majors. Florida has hit at least one home run in 13 straight games and has a major league-best 134 on the season.
Cantu is hitting .350 (7-for-20) with three doubles and three RBIs in five games versus the Dodgers this season.
Los Angeles is coming off one of its worst games at the plate this season, managing five hits. The Dodgers have been held to three runs or less in four of their last five contests, and are averaging 2.6 in their last 20 games at home.