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Diamondbacks-Marlins Preview

AP - Sports

The Arizona Diamondbacks hope a break in the schedule will re-energize their offense and struggling bullpen.

The Miami Marlins need to fix similar problems, but they won't get any rest leading into this four-game series.

Arizona opens a 10-game trip Friday night as the Marlins try to end their season-worst five-game losing streak.

Coming off their first day off since April 9, the Diamondbacks (9-10) are looking for improved results after hitting .231 and scoring 3.7 runs per game during a 3-7 homestand.

Arizona's relievers had a 6.67 ERA during that stretch.

"It was a tough homestand but we'll keep grinding and figure it out," shortstop Willie Bloomquist told the Diamondbacks' official website following Wednesday's 7-2 loss to Philadelphia.

The Marlins (7-11) also have plenty to figure out following a 3-2 loss to the New York Mets on Thursday, which capped an 0-5 trip. Closer Heath Bell walked four and allowed two runs in the ninth inning for his third blown save.

Manager Ozzie Guillen said he's sticking with Bell as closer, but that he won't pitch Friday after throwing 46 pitches Thursday.

"When you in this game for a little while, you got a lot of different ways to lose," Guillen said. "You look at stats and say, 'Why we lose the game? What we do wrong?'"

Marlins relievers walked 11 and posted a 7.36 ERA on the trip.

Miami's offense hasn't given the team much wiggle room, totaling six runs and batting .157 since its last home game. The top third of the Marlins' lineup - Jose Reyes, Emilio Bonifacio and Hanley Ramirez - went 4 for 57 on the trip.

Miami, though, is averaging 6.0 runs and hitting .307 during a four-game winning streak at Marlins Park.

Carlos Zambrano (0-1, 2.84 ERA) will try to extend that run. The right-hander has surrendered six earned runs in three starts and opponents are batting .156, but he's still looking for his first win with Miami.

"I've been in this situation before," Zambrano told the Marlins' official website after allowing one run and two hits while striking out six in seven innings of last Friday's 2-0 loss at Washington.

"You have to keep your head up. There's 30 or 31 more starts to go."

Zambrano was 3-2 with a 4.38 ERA in six starts versus Arizona while with the Chicago Cubs.

The Diamondbacks will counter with Joe Saunders (1-1, 1.29) in the series opener.

Saunders has given up three earned runs in 21 innings - seven in each start - but has received limited run support. He surrendered a season-high three runs - two earned - Saturday in a 3-2 loss to Atlanta.

"Especially the way things are going right now, you try to go out there and throw up as many zeros as you can," he said. "Unfortunately, came up one run short."

Saunders will make his third start against the Marlins. He faced them twice last season - his first full year with Arizona - and went 1-1 with a 6.75 ERA. He was tagged for three homers, matching a season high, in a 6-4 loss at Florida on June 10.

That was Arizona's only defeat in four games visiting the Marlins in 2011.

Bonifacio, 4 for 6 with two doubles off Saunders, hit .481 (13 for 27) with five doubles and a triple last season against Arizona.

Justin Upton was 14 for 31 (.452) with two homers and nine RBIs in the season series as the Diamondbacks won five of seven.

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