Jaime Garcia was working on a splendid outing against Miami in June when he suffered an injury that kept him out for a month.
The St. Louis Cardinals left-hander has continued to pitch effectively since his return - even overcoming a high walk count in his last two starts - and will try to stifle the Marlins again Friday night.
Garcia (4-4, 1.77 ERA) yielded a solo homer and four singles while walking none in seven innings at Miami on June 24. The Cardinals (73-41) appeared ready to send him out for another inning as they allowed him to bat in the eighth, but he strained his groin after singling and scoring a run in a 6-1 victory.
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Garcia didn't return until July 28 and has quickly gotten back in the groove. He's allowed one run in 12 innings in his past two starts and pitched two-hit ball over seven in a 3-0 win at Milwaukee on Saturday.
Garcia produced that scoreless performance despite issuing four walks for the second straight game.
"My philosophy of pitching is getting quick outs to avoid deep counts. Unfortunately I haven't been able to do that the last couple of games, but I've still got the job done," he told MLB's official website.
Garcia is 1-0 with a 1.59 ERA in three starts against the Marlins (46-68), who are batting .345 with 23 runs during a three-game win streak. They tied a franchise record with a 10-run inning in a 14-6 win over Boston on Wednesday and rookie J.T. Realmuto had five of his six RBIs in the sixth, including his first career grand slam.
"We have to continue to have positives," second baseman Dee Gordon said. "The last few games we've played well. We've been playing better, so we just got to continue to be positive."
The Cardinals couldn't complete a three-game sweep of visiting Pittsburgh on Thursday, losing 10-5, but exited that series with a six-game lead in the NL Central.
St. Louis swept its three road games against Miami from June 23-25 and will try to earn a fifth consecutive win in the series Friday. The Marlins have lost 21 of 27 away from home.
Tom Koehler, meanwhile, has a 2.03 ERA in his past five road starts but didn't get enough support in a 7-2 loss in Atlanta on Saturday, his third in a row overall. The right-hander yielded three runs in six innings after giving up a combined 12 runs over 10 1-3 innings in his prior two games.
Koehler (8-9, 3.75) has split his two starts against St. Louis and earned a 6-5 win in his most recent Aug. 11, 2014, allowing three runs in five-plus innings.
Jason Heyward, batting .383 in his last 23 games against Miami, has six hits in his last 11 at-bats versus Koehler and is hitting .365 in his last 15 overall contests. Matt Carpenter is batting .377 with seven homers and 13 RBIs in his past 14 games, but is a .183 hitter in his 17 against the Marlins.
Mark Reynolds has two homers in three at-bats versus Koehler.
Miami's Ichiro Suzuki needs one more hit to match Ty Cobb with his 4,191st as a professional. The Marlins outfielder, who had 1,278 hits in Japan, is 1 for 6 lifetime against Garcia and 0 for 13 in his last five games versus St. Louis.