If the Florida Marlins are serious about making a playoff run, winning back-to-back games would be a step in the right direction.
The Marlins try to win two in a row for the first time in a month on Tuesday when they continue their three-game series against the lowly Atlanta Braves.
Florida (70-68) entered August just 1 1/2 games out of first place in the NL East, but had the league’s fourth-worst record in the month (11-17) to fall seven games back of the division-leading New York Mets.
The Marlins opened September with Monday’s 4-3 win over the Braves (59-79) to avoid falling to .500 for the first time since April 6, when they were 3-3.
“Let’s have a little better September than we had August,” Florida manager Fredi Gonzalez said.
“This win is a big lift,” Monday’s starting pitcher Josh Johnson said. “Everybody’s got smiles on their faces and that’s what we want right now.”
Florida would also like to string together some victories and improve its play against the stumbling Braves.
The Marlins have not won consecutive games since July 30-31, and have not won back-to-back games in a single series since July 19-20 against Philadelphia. Last week, Florida dropped two of three at Atlanta, and the Marlins are 7-9 against the Braves this season.
Atlanta has lost four in a row and 17 of its last 21 to fall 20 games under .500 for the first time since 1990. The Braves have dropped five straight and 10 of their last 11 on the road.
“I’m pretty much disgusted with losing,” Atlanta closer Mike Gonzalez said. “That’s the worst thing in the world right now is to go out there and be losing like this.”
Morton gave up two runs and four hits in six innings in a 4-2 win on Thursday, while Sanchez allowed four runs, five hits and five walks in five innings to take the loss. Morton, a right-handed rookie, had posted a 10.24 ERA in losing his previous three starts.
He’s looking to win consecutive starts for the first time in his brief career. In his only other start against the Marlins on July 22, Morton gave up four runs, two hits and four walks in 5 2-3 innings of a 4-0 loss.
This will be Sanchez’s seventh start of the season after being out for a year while recovering from right shoulder surgery. The right-hander is 2-1 with a 3.00 ERA in his three home starts this season, and 10-2 with a 2.28 ERA in 13 career starts at Dolphin Stadium.
He is 1-2 with a 3.15 ERA in three career starts against the Braves, all in Atlanta.