Marlins
(14-8)
vs.
Cubs
(10-11)

While Wrigley Field can often be a hitter-friendly environment, it hasn't been kind to Florida Marlins star Hanley Ramirez .

Ramirez will likely return to the lineup Thursday night in a park in which he has struggled as the Marlins begin a four-game series with the Chicago Cubs .

The All-Star shortstop was hit on his right hand Monday in a 7-1 loss at New York and was held out of the next two games - both wins. Ramirez, though, is expected to be in the lineup Thursday.

While the Marlins (13-8) are anxious to have their No. 3 hitter back, Ramirez wouldn't be returning at the ideal location for him. He's hitting .205 (9-for-44) at Wrigley - his lowest average in any NL park - with 10 strikeouts in 10 games.

Florida had lost seven straight - all with Ramirez in the lineup - before winning the final two games against the Mets without him. Marlins right fielder Cody Ross hit a go-ahead two-run single in the eighth inning of a 4-3 victory Wednesday.

The win didn't come easy as closer Matt Lindstrom walked two batters and hit one in the ninth inning before recording his fifth save in seven chances.

"We were happy to squeeze one out. The ninth inning is always different, but we got out of it," manager Fredi Gonzalez said.

Lindstrom has been shaky with an 8.31 ERA in nine appearances in his first season as Marlins closer. He replaced Kevin Gregg , who was acquired by the Cubs in November and has also pitched poorly, posting a 6.23 ERA. Gregg has converted one of his two save chances.

Chicago (10-10) returns home after a 2-4 road trip that was capped by a 10-0 loss to Arizona on Wednesday. The Cubs recorded a 6.12 ERA in the six games.

"We're not going to be able to just go out there and play without intensity and go through the motions and think we can win baseball games, I can tell you that," manager Lou Piniella said, "and the quicker that sinks in, I think, the better."

Chicago has been hampered by injuries in the early season, but first baseman Derrek Lee returned Wednesday after missing two games with neck spasms and went 0-for-3. Third baseman Aramis Ramirez has missed the last five games with a strained calf, and will be re-evaluated Thursday.

The Cubs went 4-3 against the Marlins last season after losing all six meetings in 2007.

Chicago will give Sean Marshall (0-1, 4.50) his third start of the season. His first two came against St. Louis, and he allowed three runs over six innings in an 8-2 loss Saturday.

The left-hander is 1-3 with a 4.57 ERA in four starts against the Marlins, and he could be what Hanley Ramirez needs to get untracked at Wrigley Field. Ramirez is 4-for-10 in his career versus Marshall.

Chris Volstad (2-0, 2.70), who hasn't received a decision in his last two outings after winning his first two of 2008, will oppose Marshall. Volstad gave up three runs over seven innings in a 6-4, 10-inning loss to Philadelphia on Sunday.

The 22-year-old right-hander is 0-0 with a 3.00 ERA in two starts against the Cubs.

BUY Marlins vs. Cubs Tickets
Batting
Runs Avg. OBP SLG
CHC 707 0.255 0.332 0.407
FLA 772 0.268 0.340 0.416
Pitching & Defense
Runs ERA WHIP QS
CHC 672 3.84 1.325 94
FLA 766 4.32 1.401 74