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D-backs head to Miami with some momentum

Winners of two straight, D-backs begin road-heavy stretch of schedule against struggling Marlins.

After a nice finish to a seven-game homestand, the Diamondbacks are in Miami for the first three of 21 road games over the next 31 days. They arrive in the Sunshine State after a series win over the Braves that followed a split with the Phillies.


The D-backs and Marlins enter at opposite ends of the success spectrum. The D-backs, at 23-18, are near the top of the NL West, while the Marlins, at 11-30, are in the cellar of the NL East. The D-backs will need to take advantage of their upper hand with so many road games over the next month.


Here’s a look at what's to come in first of two meetings between the teams:


Pitching matchups: Friday -- RHP Trevor Cahill (2-4, 2.70 ERA) vs. RHP Kevin Slowey (1-3, 2.55). Saturday -- RHP Brandon McCarthy (0-3, 5.63) vs. RHP Tom Koehler (0-1, 3.31). Sunday -- LHP Wade Miley (3-2, 3.75) vs. RHP Ricky Nolasco (2-5, 4.39).


Who's hot for the D-backs: Third baseman Eric Chavez had an outstanding homestand, particularly in a three-RBI effort on Wednesday. The veteran went 7 for 15 in the two series with three doubles and four RBI in four starts. ... Though interim closer Heath Bell did blow a save on Sunday, he also converted three saves over the past week. He has now notched five saves since taking over for injured closer J.J. Putz, and of his six outings in that span, five have been scoreless with one hit or none. ... Over the last week, outfielder Gerardo Parra is 11 for 26 with two RBI, a home run and two doubles. ... First baseman Paul Goldschmidt went 6 for 11 with three doubles and a home run in three games against the Braves.


Who's not: Catcher Miguel Montero just can't seem to break out of a season-long slump, even after his go-ahead home run helped the D-backs win last Friday. He's now hitting .186 and on the homestand went 2 for 20 with an RBI. ... Like Montero, third baseman Martin Prado remains in a seemingly unshakable slump. He's hitting .235 with a .289 on-base percentage. On the homestand, he delivered in the same game as Montero and helped the D-backs best the Phillies, but he's still just 2 for 36 with runners in scoring position. ... Though he's dealing with an injury (more below), outfielder Jason Kubel went just 1 for 9 on the homestand.


Who's hot for the Marlins: Save a five-run outing his last start, Friday starting pitcher Kevin Slowey has been very good so far. He notched five quality starts in his first seven outings, allowing more than two runs just once. He's been hurt by a lack of run support, though, as the Marlins have scored fewer than three runs in six of Slowey's eight starts. ... Rookie infielder Derek Dietrich has been hot since making his big league debut May 8, collecting eight hits, four RBI and a home run in 22 at-bats. ... Outfielder Juan Pierre is 13 for 43 in the month of May with a .393 on-base percentage.


Who's not: Though center fielder Justin Ruggiano leads the Marlins in RBI and home runs, he's hit a cold spell, collecting just two hits and an RBI in his last 18 at-bats over six games in the last week. ... Sunday starting pitcher Ricky Nolasco has lost three straight starts, giving up a combined 11 earned runs over 18 innings. However, one of those starts was a seven-inning, one-run outing wasted by an anemic offensive effort. ... Third baseman Placido Polanco has just three hits in his last 23 at-bats, with no RBI and one extra-base hit in that span.


Notes, quotes, odds and ends: Wednesday's game will mark D-backs closer Heath Bell's first return to Miami since signing a three-year, $27 million contract with the Marlins last season. The reliever prefers to say little about his frustrating time in South Beach, but manager Kirk Gibson shared the following thought about it this week: "I don't think where he went was anything like he envisioned it. I really don't. ... He had his reasons for doing it, for going down there, but it just didn't work out. That can happen to anybody anywhere." ... Kubel has been limited the last couple series by a quadriceps injury. He went on the disabled list with the injury earlier in the year and tweaked it again shortly after returning. He could be limited to pinch-hit duties as a precaution. ... The Marlins are still without star first baseman and offensive leader Giancarlo Stanton, who has been sidelined by a hamstring injury since the end of April. ... With 21 road games in 31 days, the Diamondbacks play just eight games at home between now and June 17. ... The D-backs won three of four games in Miami last season.