The Cincinnati Reds have never lost a road game against the Miami Marlins when they have faced Ricky Nolasco.
The problem is that Cincinnati’s Homer Bailey is struggling away from home.
Those starters match up Tuesday night in Miami when the surging Reds and Marlins begin a three-game set that will complete the season series.
Cincinnati (22-16) has won seven of nine and has to like its chances against Nolasco (2-4, 3.72 ERA), who is 0-1 with a 6.46 ERA in four home starts versus the Reds – who have batted .337 while winning all of those games.
Miami (11-27) is 2-6 in Nolasco’s starts this season. The right-hander, though, turned in one of his best efforts Wednesday as he gave up one run over seven innings with a season-high nine strikeouts in a 1-0 loss at San Diego.
“I’ve been making some adjustments between starts, and I’m getting closer and closer to where I used to be,” Nolasco told the Marlins’ official website. “It’s time to turn it up on my behalf. I’ve got to dig deep.”
Bailey (1-3, 3.83), meanwhile, has posted a 6.23 ERA in losing all three 2013 road outings. He’s winless in his last six starts overall after allowing four runs in five innings last Tuesday in a 5-4 victory over Atlanta.
The right-hander gave up two runs over six innings April 21 and did not receive a decision in a 10-6 win over Miami. This will be his first start at Marlins Park after going 0-1 with a 5.84 ERA in two previous road starts in this series.
Cincinnati outscored Miami 25-11 in winning three of four last month. Joey Votto went 8 for 17 with two homers and four RBIs and Shin-Soo Choo was 8 for 14 with four extra-base hits.
Votto is 6 for 20 against Nolasco while Choo has never faced the Miami starter.
Cincinnati only needed six hits in Sunday’s 5-1 victory that completed a sweep of Milwaukee. Rookie Donald Lutz had the big blow with a three-run homer.
“What can I say, a win’s a win,” manager Dusty Baker said. “I’d like everybody to hit because that makes it exciting and makes it a lot easier on our pitching staff but as long as we score one more run than they score (it’s OK).”
Jay Bruce has not driven in a run over seven straight games against Miami, but he’s recorded 10 of his 21 RBIs over his last nine games.
The punchless Marlins remain last in the majors with 2.8 runs per game. They are expected to reinstate catcher Jeff Mathis from the disabled list Tuesday, but Mathis is a career .198 hitter so he likely won’t help alleviate those woes.
“We’re pitching on pins and needles,” manager Mike Redmond said. “It’s tough on the bullpen and tough on your offense.”
Justin Ruggiano leads the Marlins with seven homers and 16 RBIs, but he’s failed to go deep at home – where he owns a .261 slugging percentage.