With five weeks to go in the regular season, the Florida Marlins need to string together wins to have any chance of making the playoffs.
After closing their last series with an important victory, the Marlins look to win back-to-back games for the first time this month when they open a three-game set Tuesday against the stumbling Atlanta Braves.
Florida (67-64) was in second place in the NL East on Aug. 7, 1 1/2 games out of first, but dropped to third by losing 10 of its next 15 and was a season-worst six games off the division lead heading into Sunday’s series finale in Arizona.
The Marlins beat the NL West-leading Diamondbacks 5-2 to pick up a game on the first-place New York Mets and win their first series since taking two of three at Philadelphia Aug. 5-7.
“That’s what we shoot for - two out of three and move on to the next one,” Florida manager Fredi Gonzalez said.
The Marlins have not won consecutive games since July 30 and 31, and they might not have the best option on the mound Tuesday in Scott Olsen (6-8, 4.11 ERA).
Florida has lost Olsen’s last six starts, and 13 of his last 17. On Wednesday, the left-hander did not get a decision, giving up four runs and nine hits in six innings of a 6-5 loss to San Francisco.
Olsen is 0-4 with a 5.05 ERA in his last six, and is 0-2 with a 7.94 ERA in his three road starts in that span. In his only start at Turner Field this season on June 2, he gave up three runs and four hits in six innings of a 7-5, 10-inning loss. He is 1-0 with a 2.08 ERA in two starts against the Braves this year.
All-Star Dan Uggla, batting .156 (5-for-32) with a homer and one RBI in his last 10 games, was given the day off Sunday. He hopes to get things turned around at Turner Field, where he is hitting .524 (11-for-21) with two home runs and five RBIs in five games this season.
Florida is 2-4 at Atlanta (57-74) this season, but the Braves have been awful there lately, losing 13 of 16 at Turner Field.
Atlanta lost at St. Louis 6-3 on Sunday, falling for the 12th time in 14 games overall.
While the Braves’ playoff chances are virtually gone, Chipper Jones is trying to hold off St. Louis’ Albert Pujols for the NL batting title. Jones’ once seemingly insurmountable lead is down to just percentage points.
“There’s always something you can do as a player to motivate yourself,” said Jones, who is batting .359 after going 4-for-17 in his last five games. “It’s going to be a long month.”
Jones hopes to pad his stats in this series, as he’s batting .512 (21-for-41) with five home runs and 10 RBIs in 11 games against the Marlins this season. He is 11-for-18 (.611) with two home runs, two doubles and a triple lifetime against Olsen.
The Braves counter with Jair Jurrjens (11-9, 3.28), who has four losses in his last five starts after losing only three of his previous 17 outings.
Jurrjens gave up six runs - five in the first inning - and six hits in five innings of a 6-3 loss to the Mets on Wednesday.
The rookie right-hander has really had a reversal of fortune at home, where he has a 4.61 ERA in losing his last four starts. Jurrjens opened the year 5-0 with a 2.49 ERA in his first eight starts at Turner Field with the Braves winning each game.
He is 1-1 with a 5.25 ERA in two career starts versus Florida.