Carlos Zambrano's recent struggles forced the hand of Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen to go with Wade LeBlanc for tonight's game against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field.
The switch may not go as planned since the Braves are the hottest team in the majors with seven straight wins.
Zambrano is 1-6 with a 7.33 earned run average in his last 10 games (9 starts) and the Marlins are 1-9 in that time. LeBlanc will make his first start of the season since turning in 14 last year with San Diego, and is 1-1 with a 1.15 ERA in 11 relief appearances in 2012.
LeBlanc, a left-hander, is 0-2 with a 4.15 ERA in three games (1 start) lifetime against the Braves.
Ricky Nolasco hasn't had much success against the Braves either and it showed in last night's 7-1 loss. Nolasco gave up four runs and seven hits in five innings to fall to 8-10 on the season and 5-10 lifetime against Atlanta.
"I didn't give in and just tried to gut it out as long as I could," Nolasco said. "A good team gives me a 1-0 lead, and I come in and give up three, it just sucks all the energy right out of the team. It's not what you're looking to do as a starting pitcher."
Jose Reyes extended his hitting streak to 18 games with a first-inning infield single, while Donnie Murphy connected for a solo homer for the Marlins, who lost for the 10th time in their last 13 games and are winless (0-2) so far on an 11-game road trip. Reyes had a personal-best 20-game hit streak with the New York Mets back in 2005.
Earlier in the day Miami traded Edward Mujica to St. Louis for infielder Zack Cox and dealt first baseman Gaby Sanchez and pitcher Kyle Kaminska to Pittsburgh for outfielder Gorkys Hernandez and a competitive balance draft.
Atlanta is red hot right now and was able to pull within 2 1/2 games of Washington for the top spot in the NL East last night. The Nationals fell victim to last-place Philadelphia Tuesday evening.
The Braves are one of the leaders for the NL's Wild Card and have scored six or more runs five times during their seven-game surge. Brian McCann homered for the ninth time in July and Tyler Pastornicky also went deep for Atlanta.
"We're rolling pretty well," Pastornicky said. "I think we made some good additions to the team. Everyone's kind of excited about that. We're just looking forward to keep playing well."
Juan Francisco finished 3-for-3 with a pair of RBI. Braves righty Kris Medlen got the nod Tuesday and tossed five innings of one-run ball for the win in his first start since 2010. Medlen only pitched two games in 2011 recovering from Tommy John surgery and started 2012 in the bullpen.
Atlanta is 5-0 on a 10-game homestand and has won 10 of its last 12 games at Turner Field. The Braves also are a season-best 15 games over .500 (59-44) and optioned outfielder Jose Constanza to Triple-A Gwinnett prior to the game to make room for outfielder Reed Johnson, who was acquired in a trade Monday.
The comeback of Ben Sheets has been beneficial for the Braves, as they are scheduled to send the revamped right-hander to the mound Wednesday. Sheets has allowed just one run in three starts (18 innings) this season and gave up his only run in Friday's 6-1 triumph over Philadelphia.
Sheets has lasted six innings in each of his outings this season and is 2-0 with a 0.75 earned run average at home. He will try to even his career mark against the Marlins, as he is 3-4 with a 3.08 ERA in nine starts.
The Marlins are only 2-8 against Atlanta this season.