There were high expectations for the Philadelphia Phillies and Miami Marlins heading into the 2012 season, but both teams took a turn for the worse and occupy the last two spots in the National League East.
Philadelphia is just a half-game ahead of the basement-dwelling Marlins and went 5-4 on a recent homestand, culminating with Sunday's 8-7 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday afternoon. Juan Pierre legged out an infield single to score Jimmy Rollins with the game-winning run in the bottom of the 11th inning.
"I didn't have a particularly good day at the plate," Pierre said. "I went old school wiffle ball on them. I didn't feel good all day, but the one thing you can do is fight, and I just battled."
Erik Kratz had a huge three-run home run to tie the game in the eighth inning and Ryan Howard homered in the win. Vance Worley didn't record a decision and allowed four runs and nine hits over 5 1/3 innings and reliever Jeremy Horst collected the win by striking out three in two scoreless innings of relief.
The Phillies will begin a seven-game road trip this evening against the Marlins and Milwaukee Brewers, and hope Cole Hamels can stay on track when he toes the rubber Monday at Marlins Park. Hamels was 1-3 in his past seven starts before finding his old form in a 3-0 win versus Atlanta last Tuesday. He fanned five batters and allowed five hits in going the distance, improving to 12-6 with a 3.08 ERA in 22 starts.
Philadelphia was 1-6 before Hamels' gem. The left-hander has lost all three of his starts to the Marlins this season and is 6-10 with a 3.68 ERA in 22 career starts against them.
Miami has dropped three of four games and suffered a 500 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday in south Florida.
Wade LeBlanc was dealt the hard-luck loss for allowing a run in seven innings of work and reliever Heath Bell gave up four runs in just one-third of an inning.
"The game went from a very good game to a very bad game in one inning," Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said of the eighth inning.
Jose Reyes and Nick Green provided the hits for Miami, which was outhit by a 12-2 margin and struck out 11 times. Reyes broke Chris Capuano's no-hitter with a one-out single in the seventh.
The Marlins will send Nathan Eovaldi to the hill for his fourth start in a Miami uniform. Eovaldi was acquired from the Dodgers in a deal that sent Hanley Ramirez west and is 2-1 with a 5.11 earned run average in three starts with the Fish. He threw five scoreless innings in a 13-0 win over the New York Mets last Wednesday, and is 3-7 with a 4.33 ERA in 13 total starts this season.
Eovaldi, a right-hander, faced the Phillies for the first time in his career during a 3-2 loss on July 16 and gave up three runs and six hits over five innings.
Miami is 6-3 against the Phillies this season and has won the last five matchups between the two NL East foes.