Florida continues to remain close to the top spot in the NL East. If Chris Volstad can continue to give their rotation a boost, the Marlins should have a much easier time keeping the race tight.
After shrinking the gap in the division, the Marlins send their top prospect to the mound when they open a three-game series with the Atlanta Braves on Monday night.
Florida (52-46) had a stint in first place earlier this season, and has managed to remain in contention. The Marlins won two of three games against Philadelphia over the weekend, moving within one-half game of the Phillies and New York Mets for first place in the NL East.
Florida got strong pitching in a 3-2, 11-inning win over Philadelphia on Sunday, and is hoping Volstad (2-0, 0.84 ERA) can give it another effective outing.
Volstad, the 16th overall pick in the 2005 draft, came within an out of earning a shutout in his first major league start. He ended up surrendering one run and five hits while striking out six in 8 2-3 innings as Florida beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-1 on July 11.
After earning a win in relief in his first major league appearance, the 21-year-old right-hander was inserted into the rotation with Mark Hendrickson being demoted to the bullpen.
This will be his first appearance against Atlanta (46-52), which lost two of three games to lowly Washington over the weekend. The Braves matched a season high with four errors in a 15-6 loss Sunday, and were outscored 23-8 in the series.
It was a disappointing series for fourth-place Atlanta, which was hoping a strong start after the All-Star break would help it get back in the NL East mix.
“It’s a little tough to swallow when we’re in kind of a must-win situation,” said first baseman Mark Teixeira, who hit two home runs Sunday.
After their worst pitching performance of the season, the Braves will now hand the ball to Jorge Campillo (4-4, 3.06). He earned a win in his last start, giving up two runs and five hits in six innings as Atlanta beat San Diego 12-3 on July 13.
The right-hander received nine runs to work with after getting one or none in four of his previous five outings.
Campillo is 0-0 with a 4.00 ERA in one start and two relief appearances versus the Marlins. Florida second baseman Dan Uggla is 3-for-4 with two home runs against Campillo, but he has been in a slump.
Uggla, who leads the Marlins with 24 home runs and 61 RBIs, went 0-for-3 Sunday and is batting .163 (7-for-43) in his last 13 games. With Uggla struggling again, Florida needed a bases-loaded single from Jorge Cantu in the bottom of the 11th to finally win Sunday.
It was the Marlins’ ninth walk-off win, and their 27th comeback victory.
“A lot of walk-offs - unbelievable,” Cantu said. “It tells me we never give up. I’ve never seen something like that, the walk-offs by one team.”
The Marlins were held to three hits in their last home game against the Braves, losing 8-0 on April 17. Florida has lost five of its nine meetings with Atlanta this season.