Marlins, Rays open Sunshine State series

The Miami Marlins hope to put the brakes on a three-game losing streak this evening when they play the first of three interleague games against the Tampa Bay Rays at Marlins Park.

Miami had won five of six and seven of nine before the Atlanta Braves came in and handed the Marlins their first three-game sweep in their new park, culminating with an 8-2 setback on Thursday.

Jose Reyes and Giancarlo Stanton each homered for the Marlins, who went 0- for-13 with runners in scoring position and left 11 men on base.

"We're in a little slump right now. That's what happens when you face good teams and good pitching," Miami starter Mark Buehrle said.

Hoping to get them back on track tonight, the Marlins will send right-hander Ricky Nolasco to the hill. Nolasco beat the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday, despite a so-so effort that saw him surrender four runs and eight hits in seven innings. Still, he improved to 6-3 to go along with a 4.35 ERA.

Nolasco has faced the Rays five times and is 2-3 with an 8.51 ERA. He's also lost the last three times he's faced them.

The Rays, meanwhile, avoided a sweep at the hands of the New York Yankees on Thursday, as David Price tossed five solid innings and Drew Sutton had two RBI, helping Tampa Bay to a 7-3 win

Price (8-3) gave up one run on three hits while striking out eight and walking four for the Rays, who had scored just one run over the first two games of the series.

Elliot Johnson, B.J. Upton, Ben Zobrist and Jose Lobaton each had an RBI and run scored for Tampa Bay, which managed more than four runs for only the third time in its last nine games.

Hoping for the same type of support tonight will be lefty Jeremy Hellickson, who is 4-2 on the year with a 2.69 ERA. The American League's reigning Rookie of the Year found himself in the loss column on Saturday against Baltimore, despite a terrific outing that saw him allow just one earned run in 6 2/3 innings.

Hellickson, who has never faced the Marlins, has allowed three or fewer runs in eight of his last nine starts.

Tampa was 4-2 against the Marlins a year ago.