Marlins-Diamondbacks Preview

The Florida Marlins have experienced some ups and downs since

Edwin Rodriguez was named interim manager for the remainder of the

season.

It’s been far more discouraging for the Arizona Diamondbacks

since they named Kirk Gibson to the same position.

The Marlins seek their fourth win in five games Thursday night

when they open a four-game series against an Arizona team trying to

avoid losing its sixth in a row.

Florida (40-44) fired Fredi Gonzalez on June 23 and replaced him

with Rodriguez. It was uncertain how long Rodriguez would hold the

position, though, as the Marlins interviewed former third base

coach Bo Porter and had interest in ESPN analyst Bobby

Valentine.

Florida announced last Tuesday it would stay with Rodriguez for

the remainder of the season, and the team is 4-4 since.

The Marlins arrive in Arizona after taking two of three at

Dodger Stadium. All-Star Josh Johnson threw eight innings to lower

his major league-leading ERA to 1.70, and rookie Mike Stanton hit a

three-run homer in a 4-0 win Wednesday.

The 20-year-old Stanton had two homers and six RBIs in the

series.

Things haven’t been going as smoothly for the Diamondbacks, who

fired manager A.J. Hinch last Thursday and replaced him with Gibson

on an interim basis.

Arizona (32-53) defeated the Dodgers 12-5 in Gibson’s managerial

debut Friday but has been outscored 40-13 in losing five straight

since. The Diamondbacks have struck out at least 10 times in each

game of the skid to match a team record, and they have a major

league-worst 793 strikeouts – 120 more than the Marlins, the next

closest team.

“It’s tough working though it, struggling and the team

struggling,” third baseman Mark Reynolds said after an 8-3 loss to

the Cubs on Wednesday. “Then it snowballs, so it’s tough.”

Justin Upton is 3 for 23 with 11 strikeouts in his last six

games, and facing the Marlins could be just what he needs to break

out of that slump. Upton is batting .429 with three homers and nine

RBIs in his last eight meetings.

He’ll be hitting for the first time against Anibal Sanchez (7-5,

3.35), who gave up four runs and seven hits in six innings of a 4-1

loss to Atlanta on Saturday. The right-hander is 2-3 with a 4.14

ERA in his last six starts after posting a 1.33 ERA in winning his

previous four.

Sanchez, who threw a no-hitter against the Diamondbacks in 2006,

hasn’t faced Arizona since allowing four runs in 6 1-3 innings

while not receiving a decision in a 5-4 win Aug. 22, 2008.

Arizona counters with Rodrigo Lopez (4-7, 4.43), who didn’t get

much help from his defense against the Dodgers on Saturday.

After recording a 2.57 ERA in winning his previous two starts,

Lopez yielded nine runs in 3 2-3 innings, but only two were earned

as Arizona made five errors behind him in a 14-1 loss.

In his only outing against Florida on Aug. 9, the right-hander

was knocked around for six runs in two-thirds of an inning of

relief for Philadelphia.