The Marlins will send streaking Ricky Nolasco to the hill Sunday as they bid for their first sweep of the visiting Reds in nearly a decade.
Holding a double-digit lead with 16 games to play, Cincinnati (87-59) appears nearly certain to win the Central for the second time in three years. Miami (65-81), meanwhile, is one loss from clinching its third consecutive losing season.
Neither team has looked the part so far this weekend. After riding seven two-hit innings from Jacob Turner to a 4-0 victory in Friday's series opener, the Marlins reached Reds ace Johnny Cueto for six runs Saturday en route to a 6-4 win.
Another victory Sunday would give the Marlins their first three-game winning streak since July 4-6 at Milwaukee and St. Louis, and their first sweep of the Reds since May 23-25, 2003, in Cincinnati.
They'd appear to have a good chance to achieve both feats with Nolasco (12-12, 4.40 ERA) taking the ball. The right-hander, who opened the season 4-0 before enduring a five-game losing streak in mid-summer, is riding high again. He's allowed one earned run over 25 innings during a three-start winning streak that's included two shutouts of major league-leading Washington."I had a little grey cloud there in the middle of the season, but making 32 starts a year it's tough to be good in all of them," Nolasco said after throwing a four-hitter against the Nationals last Sunday. "I had some bad starts, not getting deep into games like I should, but you've gotta stay strong mentally. You know it's a grind, keep grinding."
To keep his run going, Nolasco may need to do a better job than in the past of keeping the Reds in the park. He's allowed two home runs or more - and a total of 11 - in each of his last five starts against Cincinnati, despite posting a 3-0 record in those outings.
The Reds will counter with Mat Latos (12-4, 3.72), who is 4-0 with a 1.67 ERA and .169 opponent batting average in his last six road starts, and is 5-0 with a 3.23 ERA in 11 outings away from home since a loss at St. Louis on April 18.
The right-hander is also 2-0 in his last three starts overall after giving up three runs over six innings of Monday's 14-inning, 4-3 victory over Pittsburgh.
However, Latos is 0-3 with an 8.82 ERA in four career starts versus the Marlins, failing to make it through the fifth inning in three of them.
Miami slugger Giancarlo Stanton , who had a two-run triple among two hits Saturday, is 3 for 3 with a double off Latos.
Cincinnati is averaging 2.8 runs per game and has yet to score more than five in any contest in September, though manager Dusty Baker is viewing that glass as half-full.
"Actually, this is prepping them for the playoffs, because there are going to be more close one-run games," Baker told the Reds' official website. "There aren't going to be high outputs on offense."
|September 08, 2012||Zack Cozart||Day-to-Day||Strained left oblique|
|August 31, 2012||Kristopher Negron||15-Day DL||Torn right ACL - out for season|
|August 01, 2012||Devin Mesoraco||7-Day DL||Concussion|
|August 01, 2012||Wilson Valdez||Day-to-Day||Left game - stiff neck|
|August 01, 2012||Devin Mesoraco||7-Day DL||Concussion|
|July 31, 2012||Brandon Phillips||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained left calf|
|September 14, 2012||Carlos Lee||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained neck|
|September 04, 2012||Heath Bell||Day-to-Day||Sore left foot|
|August 22, 2012||Emilio Bonifacio||60-Day DL||Sprained right knee|
|August 13, 2012||Nick Green||15-Day DL||Sprained left thumb|
|August 04, 2012||Emilio Bonifacio||15-Day DL||Sprained left thumb|
|August 04, 2012||Donnie Murphy||15-Day DL||Left hamstring strain|
MIAMI (AP) -- The Cincinnati Reds tied a season high with 17 hits and it was their final one that proved to be the biggest.
Ryan Ludwick hit a go-ahead single in the 11th inning to lift the Reds to a 5-4 win over the Miami Marlins on Sunday.
"That was a big one for us," Ludwick said. "That's a team fighting to spoil people probably and they gave us all we could handle for three straight days. Just to be able to get that one was very important.
Ludwick, Dioner Navarro , and Didi Gregorius each had three hits for the Reds, who left 14 men on base.
"We did get a lot of hits," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "We left a ton of guys on base, had a lot of opportunities, which is the name of the game. The more opportunities you get, sooner or later you're going to bust through."
Jonathan Broxton came on to pitch the bottom of the 11th for his second save with the Reds.
Carlos Zambrano (7-10) was the Marlins' ninth pitcher of the game when he came on to pitch the 11th. Zambrano, who had not pitched since Sept. 7, issued a lead-off single to Chris Heisey and walked Joey Votto before Ludwick singled through the left side for a 5-4 lead.
"When you lay off that much, you can't ask too much," Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said. "On the other hand my starting pitchers have been throwing seven, eight innings plus the last week, week and a half. That's why the guys in the bullpen have not been pitching that much."
Miami had an opportunity to score in the 10th when Giancarlo Stanton came to the plate with two runners on, but Logan Ondrusek (4-2) struck him out.
"Ondrusek came in and got a big, big out on Stanton," Baker said.
Donovan Solano drew a two-out walk from Broxton, who got John Buck to fly out to the deepest part of the ballpark to end the game. Buck's deep fly to center field was caught by Drew Stubbs just in front of the 418-foot wall.
"I knew in this ballpark to never give up on it because it's so deep out there," Stubbs said.
Jose Reyes hit a tying double off the right-field wall in the eighth inning off Mat Latos .
"I thought the ball that Reyes hit was a homer," Baker said. "I didn't see where it hit on the wall and I was glad it stayed in the ball park."
Reyes had three hits to lead the Marlins, who were searching for their first three-game sweep since June 29-July 1 when they swept Philadelphia.
"It's tough when you hit the ball good and you think you've got a home run and the ball doesn't go out," Reyes said. "It's kind of tough as a hitter but like I say it is what it is. You have to deal with it."
Latos pitched 7 2-3 innings allowing four runs and seven hits. He struck out eight and walked three.
"I tried my best to keep us in," Latos said. "I wound up giving up a lead, that's always aggravating. Seems like that's been the story of the year for me for the most part. We got a `W' and we have to move forward. That magic number is getting closer and closer."
The Reds' magic number to clinch a playoff spot to begin the day was six over St. Louis and Los Angeles.
Gregorius' RBI single and Brandon Phillips 's RBI ground out gave the Reds an early 2-0 lead.
Miami tied the game at 2-all with a two-run triple by Greg Dobbs .
Navarro's RBI single allowed the Reds to re-gain the lead at 3-2.
Cincinnati took a 4-2 lead after an RBI single by Ludwick in the sixth. The Marlins cut the deficit to 4-3 on a sacrifice fly by Donovan Solano .
Marlins starter Ricky Nolasco allowed three runs and 10 hits in five innings. Nolasco had won his last three starts including two shutouts over Washington.
"Obviously, this was not my best day," Nolasco said. "I got singled to death; a lot of ground balls just found the holes but it's part of the game. I just tried to go as deep as I could."
NOTES: The Reds also had 17 hits on June 14 against Cleveland and July 23 at Houston. ... It was Navarro's first three-hit game since July 8, 2009 against Toronto while with Tampa Bay. ... Nolasco is 4-2 with a 3.00 ERA in his last seven starts. ... The Reds will send RHP Homer Bailey (11-9, 3.93 ERA) to the mound on Tuesday at Wrigley Field to face Cubs RHP Justin Germano (2-7, 6.24 ERA) to begin a three-game series. Miami will host Atlanta with RHP Nathan Eovaldi (4-12, 4.71 ERA) getting the start against Braves LHP Paul Maholm (12-10, 3.90 ERA).