No team is more excited to be done with June than the Miami Marlins .
The Philadelphia Phillies , though, could also make a case for that distinction.
The Marlins and Phillies both hope to get their seasons turned around in July, beginning in Sunday's series finale in Miami.
After going 21-8 in May, best in the majors, and a franchise record for victories in any month, Miami (37-40) finished June a major league-worst 8-18, percentage points behind Philadelphia at 9-19. Much of the Marlins' success came at the expense of the Phillies, as they won four of five June meetings - including the first two in this series. Miami is trying to win four straight for the first time since reeling off a season-best seven in a row from May 1-7.
Despite their recent push, the Marlins enter July 7 1/2 games back of NL East-leading Washington after being one-half game back at the start of June."We need to put this month in the past and take July on," Miami's Giancarlo Stanton said after homering and driving in two runs in Saturday's 3-2 win.
Stanton is 7 for 14 with two homers and four RBIs in his last four games, and if the Marlins are going to make a playoff push they're going to need him to continue his hot hitting.
Stanton, who could be named to his first All-Star team on Sunday, was named May's player of the month after batting .343 with 12 homers and 30 RBIs, but hit .242 with five home runs and 10 RBIs in June. Miami is 19-10 when he drives in a run and 17-30 when he doesn't.
The Phillies (36-44) have a bit more ground to make up in the standings, but better days could be ahead.
Chase Utley is 5 for 13 in four games since making his season debut following a knee injury, and both Ryan Howard and Roy Halladay could be back following the All-Star break. Philadelphia is 10 games back of the Nationals after being three out of first at the start of June."I think we can turn things around, but at the same time we've got to play a (heck) of a lot better," manager Charlie Manuel said. "We have to play over .600 baseball the rest of the way. I've seen us hit some big streaks, so it's possible, but I think everybody has to get to get it going right now."
To avoid the sweep, Manual will give the ball to Joe Blanton (7-6, 4.87 ERA), who allowed three runs and seven hits while matching a season high with eight strikeouts in Monday's 8-3 win over Pittsburgh. The Phillies have won four straight behind Blanton, with the right-hander recording a 3.94 ERA while being backed by an 8.49 run support average.
His last loss came against the Marlins on June 3, when he gave up five runs and nine hits in six innings of a 5-1 defeat.
Miami counters with Ricky Nolasco (6-6, 4.78), who is winless in four starts since allowing four runs and eight hits in seven innings in a 5-4 victory in Philadelphia on June 2. At least Nolasco seemed to take a step forward against St. Louis on Monday, yielding an unearned run and four hits in 6 2-3 innings of an 8-7, 10-inning loss. He had an 8.80 ERA in his previous three outings.
Utley is batting .313 in his career off Nolasco, but Carlos Ruiz is hitting .176 with no extra-base hits in 17 career at-bats against the right-hander.
|June 25, 2012||Brian Schneider||15-Day DL||Sprained right ankle - out 3-5 weeks|
|June 07, 2012||Freddy Galvis||15-Day DL||Lower back strain|
|June 05, 2012||Placido Polanco||Day-to-Day||Left game - left index finger laceration|
|June 02, 2012||Jose Contreras||60-Day DL||Torn UCL, right elbow - out for season|
|May 28, 2012||Roy Halladay||15-Day DL||Right latissimus dorsi strain|
|May 16, 2012||Placido Polanco||Day-to-Day||Left knee contusion|
|June 30, 2012||Edward Mujica||15-Day DL||Fractured right pinkie toe|
|June 16, 2012||Sandy Rosario||15-Day DL||Strained right quad|
|May 23, 2012||Austin Kearns||15-Day DL||Strained right hamstring|
|May 23, 2012||Austin Kearns||15-Day DL||Strained right hamstring|
|May 19, 2012||Emilio Bonifacio||15-Day DL||Left thumb sprain|
|May 18, 2012||Emilio Bonifacio||Day-to-Day||Left game - left thumb sprain|
MIAMI (AP) -- Hanley Ramirez picked a good time to end his home run drought.
Ramirez hit his first homer since June 3, ending his drought at 89 at-bats with a two-run shot in the eighth inning in a 5-2 victory over the struggling Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday.
"We've been waiting for Hanley's big day," Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said.
The Marlins completed a three-game sweep of the Phillies for the first time since August 7-9, 2009, at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies have lost five straight.
"We are trying to beat everybody, but especially in our division," Ramirez said. "If you want to move up, that's what you have to do."
All-Star slugger Giancarlo Stanton also homered, and Omar Infante and John Buck each had RBI doubles for the Marlins, who have won four straight as they look to put an 8-18 June behind them.
"June, get far away from us," Stanton said. "It's good to start new and just move forward."
Ricky Nolasco (7-6) pitched seven strong innings, striking out six and allowing five hits and two runs.
"A sweep against anybody is big, but we know how good that team is and we're trying to prevent them from getting on a roll as well," Nolasco said.
Nolasco improved to 8-4 with a 3.59 ERA over 14 starts against the Phillies.
"He's always been a better pitcher than people give him credit for," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "I've seen him pitch some real good games over the time I've been here."
With the Marlins leading 3-2 in the top of the eighth, Steve Cishek allowed two singles before getting Shane Victorino to fly out to end the inning.
Ramirez's two-run homer came off Antonio Bastardo in the bottom of the eighth to extend the lead to 5-2.
"The biggest hit today was the home run by Hanley," Guillen said. "Hanley opened up the game a little bit to give you some room for a mistake."
Ramirez said: "It was good for the crowd."
Heath Bell came on in the ninth for his 17th save in 21 chances.
Philadelphia starter Joe Blanton (7-7) allowed three runs and six hits in six innings. He struck out seven.
"If we go out and throw a good game, we have trouble scraping across a couple (runs) and that's just baseball," Blanton said. "Sometimes it goes that way."
After Juan Pierre tripled and scored on a groundout by Carlos Ruiz , Miami took a 2-1 lead on consecutive RBI doubles by Infante and Buck.
Stanton's third home run in five games - his 19th overall - gave Miami a 3-1 advantage in the third. Nolasco, who had retired 11 straight at one point, was charged with two wild pitches in the sixth, which resulted in the Phillies' second run.
NOTES: The Phillies have had at least three All-Star selections in four consecutive years as LHP Cole Hamels , RHP Jonathan Papelbon and C Carlos Ruiz were selected to represent the National League on July 10. ... The Marlins placed RHP Edward Mujica (fractured right pinky toe) on the 15-day disabled list after Saturday's game and recalled LHP Wade LeBlanc . ... The Phillies selected the contract of OF Jason Pridie from Triple-A Lehigh Valley to fill the roster spot available after trading 1B Jim Thome to Baltimore. ... Marlins RHP Carlos Zambrano (4-6, 3.71 ERA) will start Monday against Brewers RHP Zack Greinke (9-2, 2.82 ERA). Phillies RHP Vance Worley (4-4, 2.92 ERA) will oppose Mets LHP Jonathon Niese (6-3, 3.55 ERA) on Tuesday.