Thanks to the play of their middle infielders, the Florida Marlins are quickly putting last week’s disappointing losing streak behind them.
After being swept last week by last-place Washington, Florida dropped seven games out of first place in the NL East. The Marlins (60-53) rebounded by sweeping division-leading Philadelphia, and with two wins to start a seven-game homestand, are 3 1/2 off the pace.
Their latest victory wasn’t easy, though.
Uggla hit a game-ending RBI single in the 11th inning Tuesday as Florida rallied from five runs down to beat Houston 9-8.
Uggla and Ramirez led the way, each finishing with three hits and two RBIs in continuing to power Florida’s offense lately.
Uggla is batting .417 with one homer, four doubles and six RBIs in his last six games, while Ramirez is hitting .459 with four doubles and eight RBIs in his last seven.
While those two have been carrying the offense, Florida’s hottest pitcher, Ricky Nolasco(notes) (8-7, 4.86 ERA), looks to help the club win six in a row for the first time since a season-best seven-game run April 12-19.
Nolasco is 2-0 with a 1.65 ERA and has 30 strikeouts over 27 1-3 innings in his last four starts - all wins for the Marlins. Florida has won nine of Nolasco’s last 11 outings with the right-hander posting a 1.47 ERA in those victories.
He defeated Philadelphia on Friday, allowing two runs and four hits with seven strikeouts over seven innings of a 3-2 win.
This will be Nolasco’s first start of the season against the Astros after recording a 5.25 ERA in winning both outings against them a year ago.
While Florida is in playoff contention, Houston’s postseason chances are fading.
After being 1 1/2 games out of first place in the NL Central on July 24, the Astros (55-58) have lost 12 of 17, dropping seven games back of division-leading St. Louis.
“We can’t quit,” manager Cecil Cooper said. “I keep saying we need a (winning) streak, and we do need one.”
The Astros seemed ready to end the Marlins’ streak by jumping out to a 7-2 lead through 5 1/2 innings Tuesday.
Tejada is 6 for 10 through the first two games of this four-game series and 4 for 9 lifetime versus Nolasco.
After allowing two hits in seven innings of a 2-0 win over St. Louis on Aug. 2 in his first start, Norris gave up two runs, three hits and five walks with seven strikeouts in six innings to beat Milwaukee 6-3 on Friday. Brewers catcher Jason Kendall(notes) hit a fifth-inning homer to end Norris’ scoreless streak as a starter at 11 innings.
“Every opportunity I get the ball, I’m going to go out there and give my team the best effort, keep it close and try to get wins,” the right-hander said.