Although an NL East title seems unlikely, the Atlanta Braves don't appear satisfied with a wild card.
The red-hot Braves try to win their fifth in a row and beat the lowly Miami Marlins for the 14th time in 2012 in the teams' final meeting Thursday night.
One night after celebrating the clinching of a postseason berth by spraying champagne on each other in the clubhouse and on the field, Atlanta (90-65) was still able to beat the Marlins 3-0 on Wednesday. The Braves managed four hits, but that was enough to win for the ninth time in 11 games.
Although Atlanta seems to be locked into the NL's first wild-card spot - leading St. Louis by 6 1/2 games and four back of East-leading Washington with seven to play - it's not given up on a division crown.
"It's going to be a difficult task, but it can be done,'' Freddie Gonzalez said. "We just have to win and see what happens.''
Martin Prado had two of Atlanta's hits Wednesday, homering in the first inning and driving in Jose Constanza with a third-inning single. He is batting .474 during a five-game hitting streak and said the team is focused on finishing strong.
"I think the way we're playing right now, we just want to keep going all the way to the end,'' Prado said.
The Braves certainly have the potential to pile up several more victories, with one game remaining with Marlins (66-89), three with the New York Mets and three against Pittsburgh. Atlanta is 13-4 against Miami this year, one win shy of matching the single-season franchise record for victories versus the Marlins, set by the 2004 team, which went 14-5.
Scheduled starter Tommy Hanson (12-9, 4.46 ERA) has allowed one run in winning each of his two starts against Miami this year, and is 4-1 with a 1.55 ERA in his last five in the series.
Hanson, however, has been shaky lately, and is winless in seven starts since defeating the Marlins on July 30. The right-hander, who served up three homers in Friday's 6-2 loss to Philadelphia, has permitted at least four runs in each of his last two starts, and four times in his last six.
"I feel like I'm battling my (rear) off to help my teammates out and help my team win,'' he said. "As of right now, I'm not doing a very good job.''
Despite keeping Miami in check, several Marlins have had Hanson's number.
Since the start of last season, Carlos Lee is 6 for 10 with one double and five walks against Hanson, Jose Reyes is 5 for 10 with four doubles and Giancarlo Stanton is 4 for 8 with one double.
Stanton, who has been out the last eight games with a sore left ribcage, may be held out until Friday's series opener with Philadelphia. His bat has been sorely missed by the Marlins, who have totaled 11 runs while batting .192 in losing six straight.
This is Miami's fourth six-game losing streak of the season, and Ozzie Guillen will turn to rookie Jacob Turner (1-3, 4.03) as the team tries to avoid its first seven-game skid since last August.
Turner pitched better than his stat line indicates from Friday's 7-3 loss to the Mets. In five innings, the righty allowed six runs - three earned - and eight hits. If not for some generous scoring, all six runs would have been unearned.
Turner, who'll be facing the Braves for the first time, had yielded two runs over 13 innings in his previous two starts.
- Miami Marlins