With a critical road trip against two division rivals looming, the Florida Marlins appear to be gathering momentum.
After moving into second place in the NL East, the Marlins look for a series win Sunday when they close their four-game set at home against the Colorado Rockies.
The Marlins (59-52) have won six of their last nine games, including two of the first three against the Rockies (50-62).
With Saturday’s 5-3 win, the Marlins moved one-half game ahead of the New York Mets for second in the NL East, and remained within 1 1/2 games of the division-leading Phillies. After a travel day Monday, Florida plays consecutive three-game sets at Philadelphia and New York.
Colorado defeated the Marlins 5-2 on Friday, but Florida bounced back Saturday. Ricky Nolasco allowed three runs over eight innings, while John Baker hit a two-run homer in the second inning and then drove in another run in the third.
“I knew I got that one pretty good,” Baker said of his home run. “That’s the best feeling in baseball, is when you get a pitch and you hit it well and you know it’s gone.”
Josh Willingham added two hits - a double and a triple - and two runs scored. Florida’s left fielder is batting .394 (13-for-33) in his last 10 games with six runs scored and five RBIs.
The Rockies, meanwhile, suffered their fourth loss in six games despite getting two home runs from Matt Holliday. Before this slide, Colorado had won nine of 10.
Holliday is hitting .471 (24-for-51) with five homers and 12 RBIs over his last 13 games. He’s hitting .467 (14-for-30) with five homers, 11 RBIs and 10 runs scored in seven games this season against the Marlins.
“He’s having good at-bats,” Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. “He’s making his presence known throughout the lead. He’s becoming a prime time player.”
Despite their current slump, the Rockies can conclude their 10-game road trip with a winning record if they manage a victory Sunday.
Glendon Rusch (4-3, 5.70 ERA) looks to help Colorado salvage that winning record and a series split as he tries to win his fourth consecutive decision. The left-hander won his first three starts after joining the Rockies’ rotation prior to the All-Star break.
He did not factor in the decision of a 6-4 loss at Pittsburgh on Tuesday, when he allowed three runs over five innings.
Rusch is 3-7 with a 5.33 ERA in 12 career starts and four relief appearances against the Marlins. Two of those relief appearances came this season, and they both went poorly as Rusch surrendered six total runs over 1 2-3 innings.
While Rusch is riding a modest personal winning streak, Florida’s Scott Olsen (6-6, 4.04) looks to avoid losing his third straight start. The left-hander allowed two runs and six hits over 5 2-3 innings of Tuesday’s 4-1 loss to the Mets.
Olsen is 1-2 with an 11.09 ERA in four career starts against the Rockies. He endured of his worst outings of the season against them on July 4, allowing nine runs - eight earned - and 11 hits over five innings of an 18-17 loss. Olsen, though, did not factor in the decision.
Holliday, who homered twice off Olsen in that game, is 7-for-10 during his career in their matchups.