The Miami Marlins have won each of Carlos Zambrano's last three starts and look to make it four in a row tonight in the opener of a three-game interleague series with the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field.
Zambrano has allowed only one earned run in his previous three trips to the mound with a pair of scoreless outings over that span. After tossing a three- hit shutout in a 4-0 win at Houston on May 7, Zambrano gave up two runs -- one earned -- in seven innings of Sunday's 8-4 win versus the Mets. He did not factor in the outcome of that game and is 1-2 with a 1.87 ERA in seven starts.
The right-hander, who's in his first season with Miami, is 1-1 in four road starts this season and will face Cleveland for only the second time in his career. Zambrano defeated the Indians back on June 21, 2006 as a member of the Cubs and delivered six innings of two-run ball in a 9-2 win at Cleveland.
Miami could use a solid pitching performance after Ricky Nolasco failed in his second attempt to become the franchise's all-time leader in wins during Thursday's 7-0 loss to the Atlanta Braves in the back end of a two-game series. Currently tied with Dontrelle Willis with 68 career victories, Nolasco gave up four runs and seven hits in just four innings against the NL East- rival Braves.
"Right now they're playing really well and we're playing really well and we're going to be facing off against each other," said Miami first baseman Gaby Sanchez. "You know it's funny, we're really in a tough division and every single team is doing their thing, everybody is playing well."
The Marlins were held to five hits, getting a double out of Giancarlo Stanton, who entered the game batting .318 with eight homers and 19 RBI in his previous 17 games. Stanton is bothered by a balky left shoulder and still played in Thursday's game for a Marlins club that fell to 12-4 this month.
Cleveland enters this interleague affair on a four-game winning streak and will continue an eight-game homestand tonight after sweeping both Minnesota and Seattle in back-to-back sets.
The Indians, who are first in the AL Central, posted a 6-5 win in 11 innings over the Mariners on Thursday thanks to RBI singles from Asdrubal Cabrera and Carlos Santana. Cabrera plated Jose Lopez to even the score and Santana later brought Jason Kipnis to the plate for the game-winning run.
"We just battled and came back there and were able to get the win," remarked Cleveland slugger Travis Hafner, who took over sole possession of the franchise record with 80 HBP. "It was a huge win for us."
Jose Lopez clubbed a three-run homer and Cabrera ended with two hits and two RBI for the Indians, who used seven pitchers to squeeze out a win. Zach McAllister started for the Tribe and gave up four runs -- three earned -- in 5 2/3 innings for the no-decision, while Joe Smith picked up the win despite allowing a run in the 11th inning.
Cleveland will also host division-rival Detroit for three games on the residency.
Justin Masterson tries to turn his season around when he takes the ball for the Tribe tonight. Masterson is only 1-3 with a 5.40 ERA in eight starts this season and lost his most recent outing on Sunday in a 12-1 drubbing at the hands of the Boston Red Sox.
Masterson was banged around for six runs and seven hits in six innings of work, and has allowed at least two runs in all but seven starts in 2012. He has been a far cry from his season debut when he delivered eight innings of one-run ball and struck out a season-high 10 batters.
The Jamaican-born righty made one career relief appearance against the Marlins in a 6-1 win on June 17, 2009. He pitched one scoreless inning and struck out a pair of batters.
Cleveland lost to the Marlins in seven games in the 1997 World Series, and the two clubs are meeting for the first time since the Indians took two of three matchups back in 2007. The Indians are 129-136 all-time in interleague play and Miami owns a 135-117 mark against the American League.