Few pitchers can alter the momentum of the game at the plate, but Carlos Zambrano is certainly capable of doing just that.
If it's up to Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen, the big right-hander won't be taking too many big hacks in the near future.
Zambrano looks to rebound from an injury-shortened outing last week against the Rays as Miami and Tampa Bay start up a three-game series at Tropicana Field.
The 31-year-old Zambrano lasted just 2 1/3 frames against the Rays last Saturday in the middle portion of a three-game series in Miami, allowing seven runs on five hits and three walks before exiting with back stiffness. Zambrano threw just 27 of his 57 pitches for strikes and fell to 4-4 with a 3.55 earned run average in 12 starts after taking the loss.
"I know he wanted to stay out there and pitch and I appreciate that," said Guillen about Zambrano. "But at the same time, I'd rather lose a game than lose a player."
The outing was a bit worse than the first and only other time Zambrano had faced the Rays, an outing on June 18, 2008 with the Cubs in which he suffered a defeat for allowing five runs -- four earned -- on seven hits and four walks over 6 2/3 frames.
Zambrano's back issues aren't expected to keep him from making this start, and although Zambrano's big swings at the plate aren't believed to be the cause of the issue, Guillen told Miami's official website he doesn't want his starter, owner of 24 career homers, trying to put on a show at the plate.
"We're going to cut down on his swings," Guillen said. "He ain't swinging no more. ... He's done with that. Now he's just going to bunt, bunt and bunt. No more home run derby for him."
Matt Moore was on the winning end of Saturday's start and will look for a repeat performance tonight in his second career outing versus the Marlins.
The left-hander, who turns 23 on Monday, did not allow a run through his first five innings before getting charged with four in the sixth. Still, he won a 13-4 decision and improved to 3-5 with a 4.59 ERA in 12 starts this season.
Moore's victory was part of Tampa Bay's three-game sweep of Miami last weekend, but the Rays had the tables turned on them as they dropped all three contests of their ensuing set with the Mets.
Tampa Bay was outscored 29-9 in the series and was held to just one hit in Wednesday's 9-1 defeat. Though the offense was better in yesterday's finale, Rays starter Jeremy Hellickson struggled and was handed a 9-6 setback.
Hellickson gave up nine hits, including three homers, and eight runs in just 3 2/3 innings for Tampa Bay to remain winless in his last five starts.
"It was a tough one," Hellickson said. "The offense came out and did their job. I just gotta do a better job keeping them off the board."
With the sweep, the Rays have fallen 2 1/2 games behind the Yankees for first place in the American League East.
The Marlins did not leave their struggles behind after getting swept by the Rays, dropping two of three to the Red Sox to begin the week. Miami was routed 10-2 in Wednesday's rubber match and has lost eight of its past nine.
The Marlins didn't get their first hit until Jose Reyes launched a two-out homer in the sixth and Justin Ruggiano also knocked in a run.
"We're very bad ... very bad, I will not deny it," said Guillen. "No sense in getting down about it. We're not playing well, so they came out and kicked our butt."
Ricky Nolasco was charged in defeat for five hits and four runs -- three earned -- over six full frames.
Miami has lost seven in a row to Tampa Bay.