Though it has not been easy and their closer situation continues to be a concern, the Miami Marlins should be happy with the start to their trip west.
Coming off a wild extra-inning victory, the Marlins look for a season-high fifth consecutive win Saturday night against the San Diego Padres.
After opening the trip with three straight one-run victories in San Francisco, Miami (12-14) needed 12 innings to snap an eight-game skid to San Diego with a 9-8 win Friday night. Omar Infante's double drove home Hanley Ramirez with the winner as the Marlins scored one more run Friday than they did in three games against the Giants.
Thanks to a three-run homer from Ramirez and a two-run shot from Giancarlo Stanton, Miami jumped out to a 5-0 first-inning lead. However, San Diego (9-18) scored six times in the third to take a one-run lead. The Marlins added two in the seventh to go ahead 8-7, but ex-Padre Heath Bell blew his fourth save in seven chances by allowing a run, two hits and two walks in the ninth.
Manager Ozzie Guillen said prior to the series that he intended to stick with Bell as his closer, but that could change after the veteran failed to hold a lead for the second time in as many appearances.
''Bell continues to struggle. We'll check (Saturday) to see about the situation," Guillen said "We have to do something about it. We can't be waiting anymore.''
Infante has posted consecutive three-hit games, raising his average to .325. He's 6 for 17 (.353) with four RBIs in his last four against the Padres.
The Marlins hope scheduled starter Mark Buehrle (1-4, 3.34 ERA) can bounce back after he allowed seven runs - four earned - in a season-low five innings of a 9-5 loss to Arizona on Monday. The veteran left-hander had given up eight runs over his first four outings.
Buehrle did not struggle in his only previous appearance against the Padres on June 11, 2005, when he allowed seven hits and struck out six in 7 2-3 scoreless innings of a 2-1 loss at Petco Park while with the Chicago White Sox.
San Diego hands the ball to Buehrle's former Chicago teammate Clayton Richard (1-3, 5.12), who looks to avoid a fourth straight losing start.
Richard has settled down some by allowing six runs in 13 1-3 innings of his last two starts after yielding 16 - 12 earned - in his previous two. The left-hander gave up four runs in seven innings of a 4-1 loss at San Francisco on Sunday.
"The ball-strike ratio wasn't great early but then he started throwing a lot of strikes after that," manager Bud Black told the Padres' official website.
Richard, who lost four consecutive starts twice in 2011, gave up five hits in six innings of a 3-0 win June 25, 2010, in his only previous appearance against the Marlins.
Yonder Alonso had four hits Friday for the Padres, who were coming off two straight wins over Milwaukee and their first winning series at Petco Park in 2012.
"It was a pretty long game but we were battling," said Alonso, who has gone 13 for 32 (.406) in his last eight games to raise his average from .196 to .273.
San Diego also has an issue at closer after Huston Street left Friday with a strain near his pitching shoulder. The right-hander will undergo an MRI on Saturday.
"I don't think it's major,'' said Street, who has an 0.93 ERA and converted all four of his save chances this season.