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Braves-Marlins Preview

AP - Sports

The Miami Marlins have mustered just one run and seven hits in losing the first two games of their series with the Atlanta Braves.

There's reason to believe their offense will have a better showing Thursday night.

The Marlins try to break out of their funk and avoid being swept by the Braves, who give the ball to Mike Minor, owner of the majors' worst ERA.

After being five-hit by Tim Hudson in losing Tuesday's opener 11-0, Miami (31-25) managed two hits off starter Randall Delgado and nothing against relievers Jonny Venters, Eric O'Flaherty and Craig Kimbrel in a 2-1 loss Wednesday.

The Marlins, who had won seven of nine coming into this series, are now tied with Atlanta (31-25) for second place in the NL East, two games behind Washington.

The Braves have won nine of 11 at Miami.

"Their pitcher was better than we were," manager Ozzie Guillen said Wednesday. "Sometimes you've got to tip your hat."

It seems unlikely Guillen will have such high praise for the opposing pitcher after the finale.

The Marlins have already knocked around Minor (2-4, 6.98 ERA) for six runs and six hits in 4 2-3 innings of an 8-4 victory May 16. Minor, who walked Giancarlo Stanton twice in three plate appearances after the slugger came in with two homers in as many at-bats against the left-hander, is 0-1 with a 7.65 ERA in four career starts versus the Marlins.

Miami is hardly the only team that has given Minor problems, as he is 0-3 with a 9.95 ERA in his last six starts overall. There was speculation that he would lose his spot in the rotation, but manager Fredi Gonzalez silenced those rumors after Minor allowed four runs in five innings of Atlanta's 8-4 loss to Washington on May 26.

"There were some hurdles there you felt pretty good he cleared," he said. "We just keep going forward with him."

Gonzalez, however, skipped Minor's last turn in the rotation because of a rainout.

Atlanta, which has won five of six since its eight-game losing streak, could be without Freddie Freeman on Thursday after he left Wednesday's game with a bruised left index finger. He had singled home the game's first run in the fourth inning, but one batter later was hurt trying to break up a double play. His finger was put in a splint, and he will undergo X-rays.

"It doesn't feel good right now," said Freeman, who is second on the team with eight homers and 36 RBIs. "My hand was in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Brian McCann had three of the Braves' six hits Wednesday and scored a run, and he's 3 for 6 with a double against scheduled Miami starter Mark Buehrle (5-5, 3.53).

Buehrle is coming off a shaky outing, permitting four runs and a season-high 11 hits in five innings of Friday's 6-4 loss at Philadelphia. The left-hander was 4-0 with a 3.19 ERA in his previous five starts - including the win over Minor in Atlanta, where he gave up four runs and six hits in six innings.

Martin Prado doubled twice and Dan Uggla had a pair of singles off Buehrle, who has a 4.05 ERA in winning his three career starts against the Braves.

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