The Florida Marlins were disappointed by how they started their final series before the All-Star break, but they have good reason to believe they can bounce back with Ricky Nolasco(notes) on the mound.
Nolasco goes for his fourth straight win when the Marlins continue a four-game road set against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday.
Florida (40-45) fell 10 games behind first-place Atlanta in the NL East after suffering a 10-4 loss to Arizona (33-53) on Thursday. The defeat dropped the Marlins to 5-5 during a stretch of 13 straight games outside of Florida, which they opened by winning two of three against the New York Mets in Puerto Rico - contests officially considered home games for the Marlins.
Florida had three errors Thursday and gave up a double-digit run total for the fourth time this year - one night after shutting out the Los Angeles Dodgers.
“It is disappointing because we need a very good series to finish the first half strong,” manager Edwin Rodriguez said. “Hopefully we can find a way, starting (Friday), to get these next three games. They have to be more mentally tough, but everyone’s trying hard.”
While the Marlins have been inconsistent recently, Nolasco (8-6, 4.69 ERA) certainly hasn’t, winning his last three starts including one in Puerto Rico and a victory in Atlanta on Sunday. He gave up two runs and struck out a season-high 11 in the 3-2 win over the Braves.
“I felt good with my fastball,” said Nolasco, who has lasted exactly seven innings in each of his last three starts while totaling 28 strikeouts. “I had good command.”
A fourth straight win would tie the longest streak of the right-hander’s career - set last season. Nolasco is 5-1 with a 3.53 ERA in five starts against Arizona. He’ll need to be wary of shortstop Stephen Drew(notes), who is 8 for 16 with three homers and two doubled against him.
Nolasco will seek to hand the Diamondbacks (33-53) their sixth loss in seven games after Arizona snapped a five-game losing streak Thursday. The Diamondbacks were outscored 40-13 during their slide, but matched a season high with 15 hits - four apiece by Kelly Johnson(notes) and Geraldo Parra - in the series opener.
“We came out swinging and strung together some big hits and drove in some runs,” said Johnson, who had three RBIs. “We got a little help, too, and that never hurt anybody.”
Looking to improve the third-worst record in the major leagues, the Diamondbacks will hand the ball to Dan Haren(notes) (7-6, 4.38), who is 0-2 despite a respectable 3.58 ERA in his last four starts - all losses for Arizona.
Haren was effective against the Dodgers on Sunday, giving up one run in seven innings, but failed to get a decision as Arizona fell 3-1 at home.
The right-hander is 1-2 with a 2.86 ERA in four career starts against Florida. He pitched a four-hitter with 10 strikeouts in an 8-0 home win last July.