The Philadelphia Phillies will begin their final road swing of the season when they visit the Miami Marlins tonight in the opener of a three-game series from south Florida.
Cliff Lee draws the start for the disappointing Phils, whose streak of five straight National League East titles came to a scratching halt. Lee can shoulder some of the blame since the high-priced left-hander is only 6-8 with a 3.18 earned run average in 28 starts this season.
Lee pitched well in Sunday's 2-1 loss to Atlanta and struck out 11 batters, while giving up two runs -- one earned -- in eight innings. He was 4-0 in his previous seven starts. Lee, who has been reached for five runs over his past six outings, owns a 4-2 mark in 14 road starts in 2012 and is 1-1 in two starts against the Marlins this season.
In seven career starts in this series, Lee is 3-1 with a 2.89 ERA.
Opposing Lee will be Marlins left-hander Mark Buehrle. Buehrle is just 5 2/3 innings shy of recording at least 200 innings pitched for a 12th consecutive season and is coming off a 4-3 loss against the New York Mets on Saturday.
Buehrle gave up four runs in six innings at Citi Field and had won four of his previous five decisions. The first-year Marlin is 13-13 in 30 starts with a 3.84 earned run average and 8-5 in 15 outings at Marlins Park. The lefty is 2-2 in four meetings with the Phillies this season and 5-2 with a 4.44 ERA in seven career starts in this series.
Philadelphia has dropped two straight and four of five games, and played its last game at home last night. In the 7-3 loss to the Washington Nationals in the finale of a three-game series, Tyler Cloyd drew the start and was tagged for six runs and six hits, including three homers, in five innings.
Youngster Darin Ruf was the lone bright for the Phillies' offense and finished 2-for-4 with three RBI. Kevin Frandsen had two hits for Philadelphia, which will close out the season with six games at Miami and Washington.
"We were what, 14 games under .500? I think we're right around .500, somewhere in there," Phils slugger Ryan Howard said on the club's website. "I don't think a lot of people thought we'd get back to that. We competed. We never gave up. I don't think a lot of people thought we would be in contention for even being mentioned to be in a playoff hunt, so if you're looking for a positive, look at that."
Miami also is playing out the string and will open a six-game homestand Friday versus the Phillies and New York Mets.
The Marlins have dropped seven in a row and nine of 10 games, and suffered a 6-2 loss at Atlanta last night in the finale of a three-game series. Jacob Turner was on the mound for the Fish and was dealt the loss for allowing four runs -- two earned -- in six innings.
"I was impressed with their starter tonight," Braves veteran Chipper Jones said. "He seemed like he had an idea. We don't normally fare too well against guys we see for the first time."
Carlos Lee and Gil Velazquez had an RBI apiece for Miami.
The Marlins are hoping outfielder Giancarlo Stanton can make a return Saturday due to a sore left intercostal muscle (ribs, chest). Stanton hasn't played since Sept. 16 and is batting .283 with 34 homers and 81 RBI this season.
Miami trails the Phillies, 8-7, in the season's series and was swept in three games from Sept. 10-12 in the City of Brotherly Love. The Phillies have won five of the past six matchups between the clubs.