Padres-Marlins Preview

The Associated Press

Whether it's next season or before the trade deadline next month, Ricky Nolasco realizes his time with the Miami Marlins is likely coming to an end.

The right-hander could be facing his future employer Friday night when the struggling San Diego Padres try to prevent the Marlins from a season-best fourth straight victory.

Nolasco (4-7, 3.68 ERA), in the final season of a three-year, $26.5 million deal, is expected to be moved before the July 31 deadline.

"I'm just blocking all that other stuff out," he told the Marlins' official website after giving up three runs in 5 2-3 innings of a 6-3 win at San Francisco last Friday.

Nolasco has posted a 2.87 ERA in his past seven starts and is coveted by several clubs in a pitching-thin market.

San Diego (39-40) has been rumored to be one of the teams trying to acquire the 30-year-old Southern California native. Padres starters have a 2.92 ERA over the last 16 games, but general manager Josh Byrnes says San Diego is looking to add an arm.

"I think we're spending our time and energy talking about it," he told the Padres' official website. "This is a good team, but there's areas we'll try to improve on."

Teams usually head to Miami to improve their record, but the Marlins (27-50) are playing far better than their major league-worst mark indicates. They've won 11 of 17 after opening a six-game homestand with a pair of victories over Minnesota.

"Right now, guys are playing with a lot of confidence and having fun,'' starter Tom Koehler said following a 5-3 victory Wednesday.

Miami has posted a 2.22 ERA in the past 10 games.

Edinson Volquez (5-6, 5.67) has gone 4-0 with a 1.74 ERA in five career starts against Miami, but the right-hander is coming off a shaky outing. He walked a career high-tying seven and allowed five runs - two earned - in 5 2-3 innings of a 6-1 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday.

Volquez didn't allow a hit until the sixth inning.

Poor defense has been a major factor in the Padres' 1-4 stretch. Three of their eight errors in those games came in a 7-5, 13-inning loss to Philadelphia on Wednesday, and the team has allowed six unearned runs in the past five contests.

"We place great pride in our defense," said Black, whose team is among NL leaders in fielding percentage at .987. "But this is a human game and guys are not invincible to errors and that happens.''

The Padres, averaging 3.3 runs during a 3-6 slide, could get a lift if second baseman Jedd Gyorko returns from injury Friday. Gyorko, leading all rookies with 66 hits, went 2 for 9 with a homer as San Diego outscored the visiting Marlins 11-1 in a sweep May 6-8.

Chase Headley and Will Venable were a combined 10 for 20 in that series after each got two hits off Nolasco - the only hits he allowed - in the finale. Nolasco struck out nine and gave up one run and four hits in seven innings but suffered a 1-0 loss.

He's used to pitching with little room for error, as his 2.78 run-support average is among the lowest in baseball.

The Marlins' last four-game win streak was June 27-July 1, 2012.

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