Marlins hope to snap skid with Rays in town
(Sports Network) - Losers of four straight, the Miami Marlins try to snap the longest slide in the majors tonight as they host the Tampa Bay Rays in the second of a three-game interleague set at Marlins Park.
Now 16-14 in their new facility, the Marlins are still only three games out of first in the National League East in spite of their recent losing streak. Yesterday starting pitcher Ricky Nolasco had some control issues as he registered four walks over six innings, allowing three runs on six hits, while striking out six in the team's 5-1 setback.
Omar Infante scored the lone run for the hosts, registering three of the squad's seven hits along the way. Leadoff hitter Jose Reyes tacked on a couple of hits as well. However, timely hitting has been an issue for the Marlins during this skid, as the squad batting just 2-for-23 with runners in scoring position.
"If you really want to compete, we have got to get better with people on base," Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said. "We have good at-bats and put ourselves in a good position to get something going, then when we have the people on the bases we're not doing the job we should be doing."
Like Nolasco, Tampa Bay starter Jeremy Hellickson also had his problems on the hill as he issued a career-high seven walks over 4 1/3 innings, the difference being that he only permitted a single run along the way. Burke Badenhop was credited with the victory for the visitors, allowing just a single hit in 1 2/3 innings of action.
Batting third in the lineup for the Rays, Matt Joyce delivered the first home run for a Tampa Bay batter hitting in the 3-or-4 hole since May 19, his solo shot coming in the fifth inning.
"We really kind of had to battle and grind out some at-bats, and I thought we did a great job," said Joyce as he finished with two hits, a pair of walks and three runs scored.
Ben Zobrist and Jose Lobaton also contributed to the cause with a couple of hits apiece.
A winner of two straight and four of his last five decisions, Carlos Zambrano is ready to take the hill again for the Marlins this evening. The right- hander, who has made his way to Florida after a tumultuous period in Chicago, last threw on Sunday as he allowed just a single run on four hits and a pair of walks, while striking out seven over the course of 7 2/3 innings in a 5-1 road win versus Philadelphia.
Zambrano, who lost his only previous appearance versus Tampa Bay in his career, also looked strong at the plate against the Phillies as he belted his first home run of the season and scored another run in the seventh inning to help earn himself the victory.
During this battle for Sunshine State bragging rights, the Rays have Matt Moore preparing to counter on the hill.
The native Floridian is in just his second year in the majors as he aims for back-to-back victories for the first time this season. Last weekend the lefty made it through six full innings versus Baltimore, allowing just two runs -- one earned -- on seven hits and three walks, striking out four in what became an 8-4 win.
Moore, who is facing the Marlins for the first time in his brief career, has lost both of his road decisions thus far in 2012.
Even though the Marlins have now dropped five in a row against Tampa Bay dating back to last season, the squad still has an interleague mark of 137-119, compared to 120-134 for the Rays.