Although they're headed toward their first losing season since 2002, the Philadelphia Phillies are hoping to finish strong under interim manager Ryne Sandberg.
Sending ace Cliff Lee to the mound against the worst offense in the majors should help them continue that push.
Philadelphia goes for its seventh win in 10 games overall and sixth straight against the visiting Miami Marlins in Monday night's series opener.
Despite dropping two of three in Washington with Sunday's 11-2 loss, the Phillies (69-80) have won 16 of 29 under Sandberg.
Carlos Ruiz (10 for 20), Freddy Galvis (13 for 28) and Cesar Hernandez (6 for 13) have played a key part in the team batting .293 while winning six of nine. The Phillies also welcomed back home run leader Domonic Brown, who doubled Sunday in his first start since Aug. 30 because of a right Achilles tendon injury.
Philadelphia, however, may not need much offensively with Lee (13-6, 2.97 ERA) looking to win his fourth straight decision.
The left-hander has helped the Phillies win four of his last five starts by going 3-0 with a 2.00 ERA with 36 strikeouts in 36 innings over that span. He fanned nine and allowed two runs over eight innings to win his second consecutive outing, 4-2 over San Diego on Wednesday.
"As a starting pitcher, that's what you should do,'' said Lee, who has gone at least eight innings in four of six starts. "You should try to go as deep in a game as you can. The only way I know how to do that is to throw strikes, don't walk guys and make them swing their way on base.''
Lee went the distance in his only start against the Marlins (55-94) this season, tossing a three-hit shutout in Miami on May 22. He's 4-1 with a 2.30 ERA in nine career starts versus the Marlins, and has given up one earned run over 23 innings in his last three meetings.
Giancarlo Stanton is one of the few Marlins who have had success against Lee, going 5 for 8 with a home run in their matchups the past two seasons. The slugger is hitting .295 with nine home runs in his last 27 games overall.
NL-worst Miami, which ranks last in the majors in runs per game (3.2) and batting average (.231), has averaged 2.4 runs and hit .215 while dropping eight of 10. The Marlins went 0 for 12 with runners in scoring position in Sunday's 1-0, 12-inning loss to the Mets.
"We had lots of opportunities, again,'' said manager Mike Redmond, whose club has totaled nine runs during a five-game losing streak to the Phillies.
Some run support would certainly make things easier on Sam Dyson (0-0, 4.50), who is scheduled to make his first career start after going 1-3 with a 2.61 ERA in five starts at Triple-A New Orleans.
The right-hander has allowed four runs over eight innings in three relief appearances since getting recalled on Aug. 29, though he limited Atlanta to two hits in three scoreless frames in Thursday's 6-1 loss.
Dyson has given up six runs and nine hits over 2 1-3 innings in two career road outings.
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