Cubs-Marlins Preview

A trip to face the Florida Marlins was just what the Chicago

Cubs needed to get back on track. Casey Coleman is hoping that

pitching in his home state will have a similar effect.

Coleman will try to end his three-game losing streak Thursday

night by leading the Cubs to their sixth consecutive win over the

Marlins.

Chicago (18-23) avoided a season high-tying fourth consecutive

defeat Wednesday as Reed Johnson and Marlon Byrd each hit key home

runs in a 7-5 victory. Johnson provided the tying runs in the sixth

inning with his third career pinch-hit homer, and Byrd’s solo shot

to lead off the eighth put the Cubs ahead for good.

“There have been tons of games throughout the whole year we felt

like we’ve just given away,” said Johnson, a career .425 hitter

against the Marlins. “If we can clean things up, we could go on a

pretty good run.”

Chicago will try for its first five-game win streak in Florida

since April 28-May 19, 1999, but Coleman (1-3, 7.22 ERA) would seem

unlikely to help his team accomplish that feat. The right-hander is

0-3 with a 9.00 ERA in his last four starts but had better luck

against the Marlins (24-17) near the end of last season.

The Fort Myers, Fla., native earned his second major league win

by yielding three runs and five hits over six innings on Sept. 18

at Sun Life Stadium. That 5-3 victory led the Cubs to an eventual

sweep a three-game set.

Coleman, though, heads into this start after giving up six runs

and nine hits over 4 1-3 innings during a 9-1 loss to St. Louis

last Thursday. In his previous outing May 7 against Cincinnati, he

gave up two runs and four hits over a season-high six innings.

“I feel like I’m not throwing as many strikes this year. When I

need that big pitch, I haven’t been able to make it,” Coleman said.

“It’s tough when you tease them with one good outing and go out

there and don’t do as well.”

The Marlins, meanwhile, are hoping for a better outing from

Chris Volstad (2-2, 5.77) as they try to record only their third

win in nine home games.

Volstad is 0-1 with a 6.35 ERA in his three starts this month

but will try to end that drought by collecting his first win over

the Cubs. The right-hander has a 3.41 ERA in his five career

matchups with Chicago but has received a combined nine runs of

support.

He gave up four runs over six innings May 12, 2010, while

suffering his only loss to the Cubs, 4-3 at Wrigley Field.

If he’s in the lineup, Hanley Ramirez will try to help Volstad

by continuing to emerge from his season-long slump. The All-Star

shortstop, batting .211 this season, went 2 for 5 with a solo homer

after going 0 for 13 in his three previous games.

“He showed something today,” manager Edwin Rodriguez said. “He’s

getting there. It was very encouraging to see him swing the bat

better.”

The Cubs and Marlins enter this game tied 74-all in their

all-time series.