Marlins-Rockies Preview

The Associated Press

The best the Colorado Rockies can do is earn a series split with the Miami Marlins.

Considering the way they've struggled at the plate, the Rockies might need another stellar start from Juan Nicasio for that to happen Thursday.

After taking two of three from the Chicago Cubs to open their 10-game homestand, the Rockies (49-53) dropped the first two of this set, totaling three runs.

Colorado, five back of the NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers, won 2-1 on Wednesday, but its offensive woes continue as it's plated two or fewer runs in 13 of 21 games. Second baseman DJ LeMahieu, who is 9 for 20 while hitting safely in all five games he's played since the All-Star break, is the only Rockie hitting better than .300 as they've split their first six games of the second half.

"Two runs here, hopefully you get more spark than that,'' said Todd Helton, who moved past Wade Boggs for 18th all-time with his 579th double.

Nicasio (6-4, 4.73 ERA), though, might not need much run support if he pitches the way he has so far in July. The right-hander is 2-0 with an 0.75 ERA in two starts following a brief demotion to Triple-A Colorado Springs.

"When I went down to Triple-A, I told a couple people I needed to clear my mind," Nicasio told the Rockies' official website Saturday after throwing five innings of one-run ball in a 9-3 victory over the Cubs. "Before, when I'd have a lead, I'd be careful. Now, I throw a fastball in the middle. Whatever, hit it. Just throw a fastball down."

Nicasio has faced the Marlins once before, a 7-6 loss at Miami on May 22, 2012, when he gave up six runs in five innings.

The NL-worst Marlins (37-62), who entered this series on a franchise-worst 37-inning scoreless stretch, have scored just 12 times in eight games, but their starters have allowed more than two runs only once during that span.

Surprisingly, it was Nathan Eovaldi (2-1, 4.15), Thursday's starter, who had the rough outing. The right-hander, going for a sixth consecutive quality start, was tagged for six runs and 10 hits in four innings of Saturday's 6-0 loss at Milwaukee.

"Most of the counts, I was behind and the ball was up in the zone. It's frustrating. It's tough to pitch like that,'' Eovaldi said.

While he had no room for error his last time out, Eovaldi's 4.67 run-support average since his season debut June 18 leads the team.

His two starts in Denver came last season, one with the Los Angeles Dodgers and one with the Marlins. He went 1-1 with a 2.19 ERA.

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