Both teams, however, could be without those key offensive stars when they conclude a three-game set Sunday in Miami.
Florida (54-50) remains hopeful that NL batting leader Hanley Ramirez(notes) will be able to play despite leaving the Marlins’ 9-8, 10-inning loss to Chicago on Saturday after being hit in the leg with a pitch in the third inning.
“He’s optimistic. He may be available,” Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez said of Ramirez, who has missed just five games this season while batting .343 with 16 homers and 69 RBIs.
“It might be a little more muscle than the actual bone. I think it’s more in the thigh area than the actual knee.”
Florida, which has lost two of three after a 7-1 stretch, can’t afford to be without Ramirez for too long as it tries to make a run at the playoffs. Though six games behind NL East-leading Philadelphia, the Marlins are three out of the wild card lead.
Chicago (55-47), meanwhile, is one-half game behind NL Central-leading St. Louis and one back of the wild card lead. After falling 5-2 in Friday’s series opener, the Cubs bounced back despite blowing leads of six and three runs in their latest contest.
Aramis Ramirez(notes) had two hits and three RBIs, but left in the 10th after he was hit on the forearm with a pitch. Though the club said the injury doesn’t seem serious, the Cubs also would miss their Ramirez, who is 4 for 9 in the series and 19 for 38 with 15 RBIs during a nine-game hitting streak.
“He was dizzy from pain,” Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. “We’ll see how he feels Sunday.”
The Cubs are 15-8 since Ramirez came off the disabled list after missing two months with a shoulder injury. He is batting .349 in 38 games overall.
Derrek Lee(notes) had four hits and led off the 10th with a homer for Chicago, which improved to 12-4 since the All-Star break despite stranding 14 runners, striking out 14 times and giving up nine walks.
“We won,” Piniella said. “How do you explain that?”
A former Cubs prospect, Nolasco (7-7, 5.24 ERA) takes the mound Sunday with a 1-1 record and 4.15 ERA versus Chicago. He allowed five earned runs in six innings of that May loss.
In his last outing, the right-hander gave up two runs in seven innings, but didn’t get a decision in a 4-3 win over Atlanta on Tuesday.
The right-hander allowed six runs in five innings, but didn’t factor in the decision of an 11-6 loss to Houston on Tuesday in his first outing since July 2.
“It was frustrating,” said Dempster, who was 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA in two 2008 starts versus the Marlins.
Jeremy Hermida(notes) had two hits with three RBIs and Emilio Bonifacio(notes) tied the game in the ninth with a two-run triple Saturday for the Marlins, who left 14 runners on base, committed three errors and allowed three unearned runs.
Hermida, batting .343 (12 for 35) during a nine-game hitting streak, is 6 for 13 in his last three contests versus the Cubs.