Marlins return home to face Reds

The struggling Florida Marlins are back home and will kick game set versus the Cincinnati Reds tonight at Sun Life Stadium.

Florida has lost five in a row and was just swept by the San Diego Padres in a four-game series at Petco Park. In Sunday's 4-3 loss to the Friars, Will Venable stroked an RBI single off of Marlins reliever Michael Dunn.

Mike Cameron gave the Marlins some life in the top half with a solo homer, but it was not enough.

Mike Stanton also homered for Florida, which is just 2-15 in its last 17 contests and got five innings of three-run ball out of starter Anibal Sanchez. Edward Mujica was pinned with the loss for putting Nick Hundley on base with a leadoff triple. Dunn then surrendered Venable's base hit.

"It's been unfortunate," Cameron said. "That's how it's been for us. We're having a hard time finding ways to win ballgames."

The Marlins went 1-6 on their seven-game road trip against Colorado and San Diego, and now hope to get back on track in south Florida. They have lost two straight and nine of their last 10 games as the host.

Ricky Nolasco toes the rubber for the Marlins tonight and he's 3-2 in his past five starts. Nolasco was pinned with the loss in Wednesday's 12-5 setback at the Rockies, as he was rocked for 11 runs and 11 hits in three innings.

"I felt good. There are no excuses there," said Nolasco. "I made a lot of good pitches that turned into hits somehow. Everybody can see that. Not much you can do when days come like that. You just go out there and try to do what I can. Obviously, nothing really worked."

Nolasco dropped to 9-9 in 26 starts to go along with a 4.25 ERA and defeated the Reds on the road back on May 1 in a 9-5 victory. He allowed three runs in seven innings that day, improving to 2-1 with a 5.26 ERA in seven career games (6 starts) against the Reds. The righty needs just one more strikeout to pass former teammate Dontrelle Willis for sole possession of first place on the club's list. Both players have 757 K's for the Marlins.

Meanwhile, the Reds will begin the final stretch of their nine-game road trip and are 3-3 so far on the trek. They took two of three meetings with Pittsburgh over the weekend and posted a 5-4 win on Sunday, as Ramon Hernandez had an RBI single and Brandon Phillips plated a runner with a fielder's choice in the top of the ninth inning to give Cincinnati the lead for good.

Joey Votto belted a three-run homer and starter Mike Leake avoided a loss even though he gave up four runs in six innings. Jose Arredondo threw two scoreless innings of relief for the win and Francisco Cordero registered his 26th save in the ninth inning.

"I wish we could do that every game with one-run ballgames, but we haven't had too much luck with them," said Leake.

Cincinnati has won seven of its last 11 games and will hand Johnny Cueto the ball Tuesday against the Marlins. Cueto is 4-2 in his past six starts and posted his second straight win at Washington during a 2-1 victory on Wednesday. He scattered six hits and allowed one run over eight innings to push his record to 9-5 in 19 starts with a strong 1.89 ERA.

Cueto, a righty, is 5-3 in 11 road outings this season and 1-0 with a 5.73 ERA in two career starts against the Marlins. The Reds have won six of his last eight trips to the mound.

Florida won two of three meetings in Cincinnati from April 29-May 1 this season after the Reds went 5-2 in the 2010 series.