Citrus Series draws to a close in Miami

Ricky Nolasco pitched well enough to get a victory last time out, but Miami's offense failed to back up its starter.

Things haven't gotten much better since and Nolasco will try to snap the Marlins' eight-game slide on Thursday night in the finale of four straight meetings with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Nolasco has a 3.65 earned run average through 11 starts this season, but is two games under .500 at 3-5. He has allowed one run in three of his last four starts, but only has one victory to show for it.

That win came on May 19, a 2-1 decision over Arizona as he scattered five hits and one walk while striking out 11.

The right-hander then did not factor into a 2-1 loss at the Chicago White Sox on Saturday as he allowed the one run on eight hits over 7 2/3 innings. He also struck out six without a walk.

"I feel good. The only thing I can concentrate on is going out every fifth day and getting guys out. I'm just staying focused on what I can do every fifth day," Nolasco said.

In six career meetings with the Rays, the 30-year-old Nolasco is just 2-4 with a 7.71 ERA.

The Marlins found their offense in two road games over the Rays to begin the week, scoring six runs in each contest. However, they allowed 17 runs to suffer losses and were then held in check by Roberto Hernandez in Wednesday's 3-1 loss to Tampa Bay.

Hernandez scattered an unearned run and three hits over 8 2/3 innings without a walk to guide the Rays to their fourth straight victory.

"He wasn't overthrowing, wasn't trying to do too much," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "The ball had great movement. He had great command of his slider, which he used at the right times, and a good change-up to boot."

Kelly Johnson and Yunel Escobar each added an RBI, while Fernando Rodney came in for the final out to pick up his 10th save of the year.

Tom Koehler pitched well despite being handed the loss. He allowed three runs on seven hits while fanning four over eight frames.

"It's always tough when you give up a couple of runs in the first," Koehler said. "When you give up that second run it really puts your team in a hole. Every at-bat becomes a battle for them from the beginning, and that can't happen."

Chris Coghlan scored on a throwing error in the first inning and Polanco singled off Hernandez in the ninth before Derek Dietrich lined out to end the contest.

The Rays have won 12 of their last 13 against the Marlins and have won five straight in Miami.

Tampa Bay has shuffled their rotation ahead of this game, pushing back the 8-0 Matt Moore to Friday against Cleveland in place of Alex Cobb, who has a split of the fingernail on his right middle finger. It is unknown when Cobb will be able to make his next start.

So, 24-year-old righty Alex Colome will start tonight for the Rays and make his major league debut. He was recalled from Triple-A Durham and was expected to help out in the bullpen before the need for a spot starter arose.

"(Maddon) told me, if I want, I start tomorrow," Colome said on Tampa Bay's website. "I said, 'Yes, why not?' He say, 'You got it, I don't want you to change anything. You do the same things you do in Durham and throw your game.'

"It's the dream I've waited for for a long time. I feel great, because it's my first time in the big leagues. Now I'm starting. Something good."

In 10 starts with the Bulls this season, Colome was 4-5 with a 2.60 ERA.