Braves-Marlins Preview

The Associated Press

The Miami Marlins didn't hit many home runs during their dismal hitting-challenged start to the season, but a recent power surge has them playing better.

That could spell trouble for the Atlanta Braves' Mike Minor, who has been susceptible to giving up homers in his recent starts.

After being cooled off with their first three-game losing streak in a month, the Marlins try for their seventh win in eight home games Monday night against the Braves.

Although Miami (32-55) ranks near the bottom of the major leagues with 53 homers, the team has had a much different look offensively since getting Giancarlo Stanton and Logan Morrison back in the lineup.

Stanton and Morrison, who missed a combined 97 games due to injuries, have totaled nine homers and 23 RBIs since returning to action one day apart June 9 and 10.

The Marlins have hit 24 home runs in their last 27 games after totaling 29 during a 16-44 start. They had won 16 of 24 before getting swept in St. Louis, falling 3-2 on Sunday as they failed to homer for the first time in six games.

"We're young, we're learning, we'll get there," Morrison said.

Miami, last in the NL East, hopes to bounce back with a season-best fourth straight home win. The Marlins hadn't lost three in a row since June 3-5.

Minor (8-4, 3.15 ERA) will try to hold the Marlins without a home run in back-to-back games for the first time since June 12 and 14, but he's had trouble keeping the ball in the park lately. The left-hander, who will face Miami for the second straight time, has allowed five homers in his last three outings after giving up nine in his first 14.

Minor has gone 0-2 with a 5.63 ERA in his last four starts, yielding four runs over six innings of a 6-3 home loss to the Marlins on Wednesday.

Stanton has two home runs off Minor, his only two hits in 11 career at-bats against him. Stanton is 2 for 20 with eight strikeouts versus Atlanta this season.

The division-leading Braves (50-38) dropped the final two games of the recent three-game series with the Marlins. They lost for the eighth time in 11 road contests Sunday, 7-3 to Philadelphia.

"I really can't tell you why. It's one of those things,'' manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "To be a championship team, you have to win at home and on the road.''

Following Saturday's trade of Ricky Nolasco to the Dodgers, Kevin Slowey (3-6, 4.24) looks to take advantage of another opportunity in the Miami rotation. The right-hander was 1-6 with a 4.50 ERA in 13 starts before being demoted to the bullpen in June.

He's 1-2 with a 4.58 ERA in three career starts against the Braves, though he pitched well against them April 8, giving up two runs in seven innings of a 2-0 loss.

Slowey, however, gave up four runs in two innings of relief in an 11-3 loss to Atlanta on Tuesday. Justin Upton should be happy to see him again, as he's 4 for 4 with a homer and double against Slowey.

Brian McCann had three more hits Sunday and has gone 19 for 32 (.594) with two homers and seven RBIs in his last eight games.

Chris Johnson and Andrelton Simmons have pounded Miami pitching, going 21 for 49 in the season series.

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