The Marlins will try to win consecutive games for the first time and give Kevin Slowey his first win in the majors since 2010 on Thursday night when they host a battle between last-place clubs.
While Miami enters the contest ranked at or near the bottom of the majors in runs (56), home runs (six) and batting average (.221), the team put together a promising performance in an 8-5 win over Minnesota on Tuesday.
The Marlins, last in the NL East at 5-16, matched their season high in runs and doubles (4) and had a season-best 16 hits to gain a split of their day-night doubleheader.
The Marlins look to keep the bats going and finally plate some runs for Slowey (0-2, 1.90 ERA), who has allowed five runs over his 23 2-3 innings.
Miami, however, has provided only one run of support over his first four starts.
Slowey, who has battled through several injuries, has lost 10 straight decisions since beating Oakland on Sept. 18, 2010, while he was with Minnesota. He did not get a decision in a 2-1 win last Friday despite limiting Cincinnati to one run on four hits in six innings."This is certainly one of the best stretches I've had, feeling-wise," said Slowey, who won his only career start against the Cubs in 2009. "Nothing is bothering me."
The Central-worst Cubs (6-14), who are 1-5 on their current road trip, have also had their share of struggles offensively. They've batted .207 over their last five games after being held to five hits in a 1-0 loss at Cincinnati on Wednesday.
David DeJesus has fared well against Slowey dating back to his days in the American League, batting 7 for 20 with four doubles and a homer in this matchup.
Chicago will try provide some scoring and solid defense for Jackson (0-3, 4.84), who was hurt by errors while allowing five runs - one earned - over six innings in a 5-1 loss at Milwaukee on Saturday.
Cubs fielders haven't done many favors for their pitching staff, ranking among the worst defensive clubs in the league with 18 errors."We just have to make plays when we have a chance," said Jackson, who has only beaten the Marlins once in seven career starts. "It's just a matter of going out and doing it."
Miami won four of six between the teams last year, including a three-game sweep at Marlins Park last April.
|April 14, 2013||Steve Clevenger||60-Day DL||Left oblique strain|
|April 13, 2013||Steve Clevenger||Day-to-Day||Left oblique injury|
|April 13, 2013||Kyuji Fujikawa||15-Day DL||Strained right forearm|
|March 31, 2013||Darwin Barney||15-Day DL||Left knee laceration|
|March 31, 2013||Scott Baker||60-Day DL||Strained right elbow|
|March 31, 2013||Darwin Barney||15-Day DL||Left knee laceration|
|April 17, 2013||Adeiny Hechavarria||15-Day DL||Bruised left elbow|
|April 13, 2013||Justin Ruggiano||Day-to-Day||Groin|
|April 12, 2013||Giancarlo Stanton||Day-to-Day||Left shoulder soreness|
|April 04, 2013||Casey Kotchman||Day-to-Day||Strained left hamstring|
|April 04, 2013||Casey Kotchman||15-Day DL||Strained left hamstring|
|March 31, 2013||Alfredo Silverio||60-Day DL||Sprained right elbow|
MIAMI (AP) -- Luis Valbuena wasn't going to let the game go to extras.
Valbuena hit a tie-breaking solo home run in the ninth inning off Steve Cishek (1-3) to lift the Chicago Cubs to a 4-3 win over the Miami Marlins on Thursday night.
"Ninth inning, two outs, I tried to hit a home run," Valbuena said. "I didn't want to play extra innings."
The Marlins fell to 5-17 which matches the worst start in franchise history through 22 games according to STATS. Miami had the same record in 1995.
"Cishek made a mistake up in the zone and the guy hit it out," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. "It just seems like that's the way it's going right now for us."
Shawn Camp (1-1) pitched the eighth and Carlos Marmol got the final three outs for his second save in four opportunities.
Nate Schierholtz doubled and homered for Chicago, which scored the final three runs of the game.
"It was a good win for us, a good comeback," Schierholtz said. "Valbuena had a big home run in the ninth and our starting pitching has been great, they've been keeping us close in games. We just need to score them a few runs like we did tonight and we'll come out on top."
Valbuena put the first pitch he saw from Cishek into the Marlins' bullpen in right-center field.
"He's just been good, he has four home runs and he's on pace for 30-something home runs," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "He's done a great job. He was a huge pick-up last year."
Marmol walked Donovan Solano to begin the bottom of the ninth and Austin Kearns lined a single to left to put Solano in scoring position with no outs. Juan Pierre 's bunt was fielded cleanly by catcher Welington Castillo , who threw to third for the force out.
"It's unacceptable," Pierre said of his failed sacrifice attempt. "You have one job to do; you give yourself up and bunt the guy over. You can put this one on me."
Placido Polanco lined out to center and Giancarlo Stanton struck out swinging to end the game handing the Marlins their fourth loss in the last five games.
"It was a slider," Stanton said. "You're always looking for a strike; that's the ideal thing you're supposed to do in a major league game."
Marmol has not officially been named the team's closer, which Sveum believes works in his favor.
"He pitches great when he doesn't know he's the closer," Sveum joked.
Schierholtz tied the game 3-3 in the sixth with a solo home run down off Kevin Slowey the right-field line hitting the foul pole just over the fence. It was his third home run of the season.
"I knew it was going to be close, I was just praying for it to hit that foul pole," Schierholtz said. "I hit a change-up and just kind of hooked it. I was lucky that it caught that pole."
Slowey allowed three runs and five hits in six innings. He struck out six as he threw 76 of 114 pitches for strikes.
Cubs starter Edwin Jackson allowed three runs in the first two innings before holding the Marlins scoreless for the next four frames. He struck out four and walked four.
"Everything was up, slider was up, fastball was up," Jackson said. "...I just feel like I couldn't put people away earlier in the game, but we fought back, a great team effort. These are the kinds of games we know we're capable of winning."
Both teams scored a run in the first inning as Starlin Castro had an RBI single for the Cubs and Rob Brantley drew a bases loaded walk for Miami.
Pierre drove in the Marlins second run with a single to center, then stole second and third, and scored on a groundout by Giancarlo Stanton for a 3-1 lead.
Back-to-back doubles by Schierholtz and Castillo pulled the visitors within 3-2.
NOTES: Valbuena had four home runs in 90 games last season. ... Jackson is 1-6 with a 6.39 ERA in nine games against Miami. ... A pair of Marlins are getting closer to making their return from shoulder injuries as SS Adeiny Hechavarria is expected to have a rehab assignment next week with Single-A Jupiter before rejoining the big league club when he is eligible to come off the disabled list on May 2 and RHP Henderson Alvarez will have a 45-pitch simulated game on Saturday and will make a rehab start with Jupiter on May 2. ... The Cubs will send RHP Scott Feldman (0-3, 4.50 ERA) to the mound Friday to oppose Marlins LHP Wade LeBlanc (0-3, 6.27 ERA).