Florida (53-47) was 3 1/2 games out of first place in the NL East on July 5, but has pulled into a second-place tie with the New York Mets, just a game back of first-place Philadelphia.
The Marlins defeated the Braves 4-0 on Tuesday to win for the ninth time in 13 games. Florida is one victory away from winning four straight series for the first time since June 9-22, 2006.
The Marlins had just four hits Tuesday after getting only two in Monday’s series-opening 4-0 loss, but that was enough to back Rick VandenHurk, who was recalled from the minors to start Tuesday’s game. VandenHurk threw five no-hit innings, and combined with three relievers on a one-hitter.
Mike Jacobs provided all the offense VandenHurk would need with a three-run home run in the fourth, his 20th of the season but just his second since June 26.
“I was jokingly going to ask (manager Fredi Gonzalez) for the scorecard, because I’ve never been part of a one-hitter,” Nelson said. “Unfortunately the box score is going to say I was the one who gave it up. You know what? That’s fine. We won the game.”
Jones is 2-for-7 this series after batting .594 (19-for-32) with five home runs and eight RBIs in his first eight games of the season against Florida. The All-Star third baseman will look to get things turned around Wednesday, as he’s batting .643 (9-for-14) with three homers and three doubles lifetime against scheduled starter Ricky Nolasco (10-5, 3.78 ERA).
After going 3-0 with a 1.86 ERA in his final four starts before the All-Star break, Nolasco gave up four runs and seven hits in seven innings of a 4-2 loss to Philadelphia on Friday, his first defeat since June 5 to Atlanta.
Nolasco has had no luck against the Braves this season, as he’s been pounded for 13 runs and 21 hits - including seven home runs - in losing both of his starts against them. He went 1-1 with a 1.99 ERA in his first four starts versus Atlanta.
The Braves counter with Tim Hudson (10-7, 3.31), who seeks his first road win since May 12 against Pittsburgh.
Hudson gave up five runs and nine hits in 6 2-3 innings of a 7-6 win over Washington on Friday. The right-hander has been tagged for at least five runs in three of his last six starts, and is 0-4 with a 4.86 ERA in his last six outings away from Turner Field.
He took the loss at Dolphin Stadium in his only start against the Marlins this season, allowing four runs and six hits in three innings of a 6-5 defeat. That was his first career loss at Florida after going 4-0 with a 2.27 ERA in six starts there.