Miami Marlins starter Henderson Alvarez had a decent beginning to his season, but his stellar outing against the Philadelphia Phillies just over a month ago triggered a hot stretch that could wind up landing him an All-Star nod.
Alvarez gets another shot at the Phillies on Wednesday night as the visiting Marlins hope to avoid a sixth loss in eight games.
After going 2-3 with a 3.62 ERA through his first nine starts, Alvarez (4-3, 2.39 ERA) is 2-0 with a 0.68 ERA over his last six - all Miami victories - while allowing three earned runs during that stretch.
Alvarez began it by giving up four hits in seven scoreless innings in the Marlins' 4-3 win over Philadelphia on May 22, and his ERA since that outing is the best in the majors.
The right-hander most recently allowed seven hits in 6 1-3 scoreless innings of Friday's 3-2 win over the New York Mets.
"All my pitches were working well," Alvarez said. "Now, it's just about going forward."
Alvarez is 0-2 with a 3.79 ERA on the road, though, including giving up three runs and a season-worst 12 hits over six innings of Miami's 4-3 loss to Philadelphia on April 13.
The Phillies (35-41) had been struggling at home as the Marlins (38-39) won Monday's series opener 4-0, marking the 10th time Philadelphia was shut out in its last 25 games at Citizens Bank Park.
Marlon Byrd hit a two-run homer in a three-run first inning Tuesday to help the Phillies beat Miami 7-4. Byrd is just 2 for 17 over his last five - both hits have left the park - but manager Ryne Sandberg is staying behind his outfielder.
''He's a strong guy and he works very hard,'' Sandberg said. ''Byrdie is one of the first at the ballpark and he prepares. He loves to hit and he's strong. He stays in great shape and he keeps his power stroke. He's a threat every time he comes up.''
Garrett Jones hit a two-run homer in the eighth for Miami, which has been outscored 31-17 over its last seven. It played its fourth straight game without shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria, whose MRI on Tuesday revealed a right triceps strain. Manager Mike Redmond hopes Hechavarria can avoid being placed on the disabled list.
"We're going to try to give it a few days to see if it gets better and is able to play without putting him on the DL," Redmond told MLB's official website. "(Monday) he tried to throw and still had some discomfort there. Now it's just a matter of seeing how he feels going forward."
The Marlins will look to bounce back against A.J. Burnett, who like Alvarez has a bit of a hot streak going.
Burnett (5-6, 3.89) improved to 2-1 with a 2.22 ERA over his last three starts after tossing a complete game in Friday's 5-1 win over St. Louis. He's pitched into the eighth in each outing after doing so just once over his first 13 starts.
''Any way I can help,'' Burnett said. ''Whatever it takes.''
The right-hander has labored against the team he pitched for from 1999-2005 in two outings this season, though.
He gave up two runs and walked six while throwing 106 pitches over 4 1-3 innings April 11 in Philadelphia's 6-3 win, then allowed three runs while walking four in five innings of a 6-5 win May 20.
The Phillies have won nine of the last 11 home meetings with Miami.
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